Area Agency on Aging: June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

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By Kay Kaylor
PREVIEW Columnist

I advocate for residents in extended care and assisted living residences as the region’s lead long-term care ombudsman. I also am a Senior Medicare Patrol and State Health Insurance Assistance Program counselor, all as an employee of San Juan Basin Area Agency on Aging (SJBAAA). Information on the many aging and care concerns will be included here.

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, launched in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. The purpose is to promote a better understanding of elder mistreatment among world communities. According to the Administration for Community Living, an estimated 5 million older adults worldwide are abused, neglected or exploited, and older Americans lose an estimated $2.6 billion annually to financial abuse and exploitation. 

In its spring issue of Generations, “Taking Action Against Elder Mistreatment,” the American Society on Aging includes tools for emergency responders and hospital staff to recognize signs of mistreatment in order to report them to authorities as mandatory reporters. The 130-page magazine can be read online or downloaded into Adobe Acrobat Reader at asaging.org; the link is on one of the changing screens at the top. 

“The Might of Metaphor,” the second article, examines a new way to communicate about mistreatment, comparing expert knowledge of known risk factors to research on public perceptions. For example, the public tends to explain abuse as coming from moral factors such as selfishness or lack of character or an immoral culture, rather than risk factors such as mental illness, substance abuse and lack of support through activities with others.

 Several advocacy and government agencies are offering webinars to the public during the week of the awareness day, as well as ongoing information.

In Archuleta County, reporting of suspected mistreatment of adults for investigation, rather than in an emergency, can be made to Adult Protective Services during regular business hours, 264-2182.

SJBAAA offers resources for people age 60 and older or on Medicare. For further information, please call or text 403-2165 or send an email to leadombudsman@sjbaaa.org.