Age-Friendly Louisville Raises Awareness for World Elder Abuse Day

June 13, 2019

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is this Saturday, June 15, 2019. This annual day of awareness calls attention to a growing population of elderly people and some of the abuses they face. As longevity increases, abuse of the elderly is an increasing and serious problem that affects health and human rights and can cause death, so it is vital to raise awareness to prevent it whenever and wherever possible.

Older people are often dependent on the care of their relatives who might be unable to cope with the challenges that often come with caring for an older adult. Many times, the older adult is seriously ill and not able to defend themselves. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day aims to encourage the public’s awareness so more people can identify and report elder abuse. 

Elder abuse can take different forms: physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and financial exploitation. Knowing a few simple signs can help community members identify potential abuse. Possible signs of elder abuse include:

  • Physical abuse: Frequent injuries; multiple bruises in various stages of healing; individual appears frightened.
  • Sexual abuse: Fearful of a particular person; upset when changed or bathed; irritation or injuries of the mouth, genitals or anus.
  • Neglect: Obvious malnutrition, dehydration; dirty and offensive body odor; lack of glasses, dentures or hearing aid.
  • Financial exploitation: Unusual activity in bank account; lack of food, clothing and personal supplies; missing personal belongings such as jewelry, TV, art.

Age-Friendly Louisville, through their Social Participation, Respect and Inclusion Workgroup has been working to raise awareness of elder abuse in Louisville. Specifically, this group seeks to improve community cohesion to guard against elder abuse by identifying and improving elder abuse trainings. This effort is being done in coordination with a wide variety of stakeholder and social service agencies.

“It can be hard to imagine that anyone would deliberately want to harm an elderly person, but unfortunately, elder abuse does occur” says Chris Clements, Louisville Metro's Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) coordinator and facilitator for Age Friendly Louisville. “Some instances of elder abuse are intended to exploit the person, such as scams, and in other cases, neglect can be unintentional, as when sometimes an older adult’s caretaker does not provide them with basic necessities.” says Clements. “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an opportunity to educate each other on the signs of elder abuse so that we can all be advocates against potential harm to older adults,” he says.

Join Age-Friendly Louisville this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by doing the following:

  • Wear a purple solidarity ribbon
  • Learn about the types and signs of elder abuse
  • Submit an editorial to discuss elder abuse to radio station, television show or newspaper.
  • Host a training or have a community gathering to focus and discuss the issue.
  • Establish or join a local group or network that is addressing elder abuse, such as the Age-Friendly Social Participation, Respect and Inclusion Workgroup.

The Age-Friendly Louisville Social Participation, Respect and Inclusion Workgroup, supported and facilitated by staff with Louisville Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services, meets on the second Tuesday every month from 2 – 4 p.m. at the Thrive Center, 204 E. Market Street. To learn more about elder abuse and other Age-Friendly Louisville initiatives please visit www.agefriendlylou.com or by contacting Natalie Pope at (502) 852-7733 or Natalie.pope@louisville.edu  

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