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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Help spread the word for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15. It can be hard to imagine that anyone would deliberately want to harm an elderly person, but unfortunately, elder abuse is a widespread problem. Some instances of elder abuse are intended to exploit the person financially; you’ve probably heard of scams targeting seniors. In other cases, it’s simple negligence: Caregivers don’t provide the basic necessities, like nutritious food, appropriate medication, safety, or assistance with hygiene. If you see something, say something.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, or WEAAD, is an annual initiative launched on June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization. In its 66/127 resolution, the United Nations General Assembly designated that date as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day in which the entire world voices its opposition to any form of abuse of the older generation.

WEAAD aims to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of the abuse older people suffer by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting them. Elder abuse is one of the least investigated types of violence and does not get addressed in national action plans as frequently as other key social issues.

The UN International Plan of Action described elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. Globally we have an aging population, with the number of older people in the world expected to be 1.4 billion by 2030. Research suggests that 4 to 6 percent of the elderly suffer from some kind of abuse, most of which go unreported. This day is to make sure we remain focused on our elders, ensuring they lead a life of high quality and dignity.

A. Older Americans may be unable to advocate for themselves
Many seniors are not in a place to stand up for themselves, whether it’s because they’re physically frail or because they’re scared of speaking up and fear repercussions. It’s crucial for all of us to be on the lookout for signs of elder abuse, and to speak up if something seems wrong.

B. Seniors deserve our respect and our attention
In so many cultures, elders are revered —and rightfully so. Their experiences, memories, and perspective on life are valued for the lessons that younger folks can learn. And if older people aren’t encouraged to pass along the skills and wisdom they have accumulated during their lives, then the culture as a whole suffers. We owe it to older generations to ensure that their so-called Golden Years are not tarnished by neglect.

C. It reminds us to look out for each other
It’s easy to see bad things and not say anything—whether that’s senior abuse or a mugging on the street. But this holiday reminds us just how important it is to look after, and look out for, our fellow humans. It reminds us to exercise compassion on a daily basis, and care about others rather than just ourselves.


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