Raise awareness to end elder abuse

Join DHS on June 15 as we observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). WEAAD is an opportunity for people and organizations to take action to protect older adults. Reach out to an older loved one or older adult in your community to make sure that they are thriving, living safely, being treated with respect and are connected to needed resources.  

Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) Director, Vic Reynolds knows how crucial protecting our senior population is to a stronger Georgia.  

“As we observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we are reminded how important it is to protect one of our most vulnerable populations. Every day, the GBI is committed to investigating not only physical abuse, but also financial abuse and exploitation of the elderly and at-risk adults,” Reynolds said.  

Here’s what you need to know to protect seniors in your life: 

  • How to spot elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation  

Did you know that 90% of elder abuse occurs at the hands of family members or caregivers? The top five reasons for APS reports in state fiscal year 2020 included: 

  1. Financial abuse or exploitation 
    1. Improperly or illegally using a person’s resources for the benefit of another person. 
  2. Self-neglect 
    1. Depriving oneself of necessities such as food, water or medication. Consciously putting oneself in harm’s way or being unable to handle the needs of day-to-day living, because of medical, mental health or other disabilities.  
  3. Neglect 
    1. Refusing or failing to provide essential services (food, water, shelter, medical care, etc.) to a person to the degree that it harms or threatens to harm them. 
  4. Emotional abuse 
    1. Using tactics, such as harassment, insults, intimidation, isolation or threats that cause mental or emotional anguish. Emotional abuse diminishes the person’s sense of identity, dignity and self-worth.  
  5. Physical abuse 
    1. Using physical force to coerce or to inflict bodily harm. It often, but not always, causes physical discomfort, pain or injury. It may include the willful deprivation of essential services such as medical care, food or water. 

The pandemic forced many seniors to isolate for health reasons. Social isolation can lead to depression and self-neglect, and unchecked caregiver stress can lead to abuse.  

The National Institute on Aging suggests looking for physical signs like bruises and scars, as well as behavioral signs like anger, fear, anxiety, nervousness or depression. Elders who are being abused may withdraw, avoid eye contact, suddenly lose weight, experience mood swings, have trouble sleeping or may startle easily.

If you are concerned about an older adult, contact APS to file a confidential report at 1-866-552-4464. (Remember to always call 911 in emergencies.).

Resources are available for caregivers to prevent caregiver stress and burnout. For more information on caregiver resources, contact the local Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) near you: https://aging.georgia.gov/locations.

On this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, show your love for the older adults in your life and community. They deserve respect and the ability to live strong, independent lives in their communities.