Elder Abuse Awareness Month

"With Gov. Pat McCrory's declaration of June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month in North Carolina and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, it is important to raise awareness within the local community in order to make an impact not only in the state but also the nation. "While people may recognize signs of physical abuse, it is often mental and financial abuse that occurs and goes undetected," says Amy Natt, a certified geriatric care manager and owner of Aging Outreach Services, a full-service elder care firm with offices in Southern Pines and Cary.

The latest U. S. Census statistics show approximately 14 million U.S. adults age 65 and older and 19 million U.S adults aged 18 to 64 have a disability, which increases their susceptibility to abuse. Elder abuse and neglect occurs when a family member, caregiver or individual trusted by the elder, intentionally creates risk or does harm to that elder.

With the more than 10,000 baby  boomers turning age 65 everyday, this group is the largest growing segment of the population making the need to combat elder abuse and raise awareness even greater. By 2050, U.S. Census data predicts there will be more than 19 million age 85 or older.

With a growing population of elders, it is often impossible to have exact numbers of elder abuse reports because many go unreported; however, the latest studies have revealed that females elders are more likely to be abused than their male counterparts and that the older the elders are, the more likely they are to be abused. Research has also shown that those with dementia or Alzheimer's disease are at a greater risk of being abused. Older adults may not report the abuse because of fear of retaliation or because they are embarrassed, or because they lack the physical or cognitive abilities to do so.

The impact of elder abuse impacts not only the elder with additional medical costs or personal financial losses but also increased expenditures by county, state and federal entitlement programs.

"An alarming number of scams now target older adults with false claims and promises, hoping to tap their financial resources," says Natt. "Sadly, we have seen many cases of abuse that occur within a family. A lack of resources, caregiver stress and fractured relationships can contribute to this as well as a history of past abuse."

With raised awareness through education and initiatives like Elder Abuse Awareness Month, elders can be safer in their communities. "Abuse occurs in many forms, and as a society, we need to have an awareness and become advocates for our elder population," says Natt. "After all, we are all aging and someday, it may be you who needs a voice."" For more information visit Aging Outreach Services