June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day as well as the day we honor fathers. The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (NAPGCM) members can honor their fathers [or honor the memory of their fathers] by actively getting involved with efforts to eliminate elder abuse. This will only happen if there is an increased public awareness of the prevalence of elder abuse.
People don’t want to talk about elder abuse – they seem to think that perhaps if it isn’t discussed, then it doesn’t exist. We know this isn’t the case. Regina Curran, a geriatric care manager who has been involved in the geriatric care movement for many years, also has been involved with an effort to increase awareness of elder abuse in Baltimore County, Maryland. She reports that when she represents the CB-REST coalition at community events, most people tend to try to avoid any conversation on the topic.
Elder abuse can be sexual abuse, it can be physical abuse, it can be financial abuse or it can be emotional abuse. Many victims suffer in silence because they are embarrassed by their situation. A few years ago, Ms. Curran attended a Senate hearing when Mickey Rooney testified that his family members had taken his money and left him without access to the money he had earned over many years. Last year at the BC-REST event, an older gentleman explained how he lost his home and all his financial assets by one of the scams that tend to find their way to the mailboxes of older individuals.
Obviously there is outcry when the media reports that an aide has been charged with physical or sexual abuse of a vulnerable nursing home resident. However, most elder abuse goes unreported [and frequently undetected]. That needs to change. Bringing these issues to public focus is the primary goal of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
The geriatric care movement and all seniors owe Regina Curran a debt of gratitude for continually bringing this crucial issue to national attention.