Monday, June 13, 2016 4:50 PM

Recognizing abuse – keep our elders safe

Shock and compassion are but a few reactions people have when the media reports an elder person is found in deplorable housing conditions, alone and ill requiring transport to a hospital, or an elder person has lost their life savings in a telephone scam promising future security or perhaps readers have been witness to a family caretaker verbally abusing their elder parent when frustrated about a milieu of possible issues.  I will never forget a personal experience with my father who was subjected to repeated telephone calls asking for money to help a relative in distress.  His concern and confusion really alarmed me at the frequency of contacts to older adults that can result in harm.  I was thankful that I was aware and available to guide and reassure my father to report these false calls.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. On that day, communities in the USA and all over the world will sponsor events to highlight the growing tragic issue of elder abuse.
Your readers -- young and old -- should know that the U.S. Administration on Aging estimates that as many as 1 in 10 older Americans are abused or neglected each year. Older adults are contributing members of American society and their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us. America has confronted and addressed the issues of child abuse and domestic violence, but, as a society we have for too long ignored the issue of elder abuse.

Elder abuse can be physical, emotional, financial and sexual. It also includes people who are neglected and those who neglect themselves (self-neglect). Elders who are abused are twice as likely to be hospitalized, four times as likely to go into nursing homes and three times as likely to die. While most abusers are family members, trusted professionals and complete strangers may also target older adults. Abuse can happen in any setting: in the older adult’s own home, nursing homes, or assisted living facilities.

Elder abuse can be prevented if everyone would treat older Americans with respect and care. Learning the warning signs of abuse and knowing how to report it is another great step. Adult Protective Services, the police, and the Area Agency on Aging Program are organizations that you can call on for assistance and information. 

Our Central Valley Interdisciplinary Geriatric Education group is a coalition of likeminded health professionals representing UCSF Fresno’s Alzheimer’s and Memory center, Fresno State Physical Therapy and Nursing programs, UCSF Fresno’s Family and Community Medicine department and Community Medical Center’s Injury prevention program. 

We invite community members to learn more about this important topic and to get more information on how they can stop elder abuse by attending our Elder Abuse Awareness event:

“Recognizing Elder Abuse; Keeping our Elders Safe, It Takes a Community!”
Wednesday, June 15
11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
UCSF Fresno Medical Education Center
To register, call 559-724-4202
Adriana Padilla, MD
Clinical Professor, Family and Community Medicine, Volunteer
UCSF Fresno