Today marks the 6th annual celebration of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).  Like domestic violence and child abuse, elder abuse crosses all socio-economic lines and can be found in every country.  Around the world, millions of older adults are abused and neglected every year – often by someone they know.  However, having long remained a subject that is seldom discussed, the exact number of global victims of elder abuse is not yet known.  According to HelpAge International  “the few studies that have been conducted show that between 4% and 6% of older people have experienced some form of abuse in their homes.”  Worse yet, the U.S. Administration on Aging estimates that 84 percent of  abuse incidents are not reported.  As the world’s population ages over the coming decades, the total number of elder abuse victims is widely expected to rise.

Despite this growing trend, elders who experience abuse in their homes have few place to escape physical violence, emotional cruelty or financial exploitation.  To fill this gap, the Hebrew Home for the Aged, an IAHSA member in Riverdale, New York, USA, established the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention to assist elderly victims of domestic violence. The Center works to prevent abuse of elders in the community, intervenes to protect abused elders, and conducts research to identify the prevalence and incidence of elder abuse.  The Center also offers victims a full range of healthcare and supportive services, including an emergency residential shelter and a coordinated system of care that provides a safe harbor, emotional support, psychological counseling, healthcare, and legal advocacy and representation for victims of elder abuse.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention is just one of several innovative models from around the world that will be discussed  during a special education session on Global Elder Abuse Prevention at the IAHSA Global Ageing Conference.  The session will be held in Washington, DC on 15 October 2011 and will delve into the global state of elder abuse and provide a firsthand knowledge from professionals in the field about elder abuse prevention models.  Confirmed panelist include speakers from Canada, Ireland, Israel, and the United States.

IAHSA hopes that this 2011 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day serves to increase awareness about the mistreatment of  older adults around the world.  Share with us your stories of the impact of alder abuse and of prevention efforts in your country.

For more information:

HelpAge International

U.S. Administration on Aging

Special Session on Elder Abuse Prevention: Global Models

International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse