June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day - a day when communities all over the globe acknowledge abuse against older adults. It is an unfortunate reality that elder abuse occurs all too often, all over the world. Elder abuse is a vastly more pervasive issue than most may appreciate, which makes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day ("WEAAD") so incredibly important.
WEAAD was conceived by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) in 2006, and was adopted by UN's General Assembly as a United Nation's Day in 2011. On WEAAD, we are called upon to acknowledge the abuse that older adults experience not only in our own communities, but in communities around the world. We are called upon not only to recognize the problem, but to be a part of the solution.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines elder abuse as "a single, or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person". Elder abuse could mean physical abuse, sexual violence, and/or emotional or psychological abuse, but it could also manifest as neglect or financial exploitation. Studies show that about one in six adults aged sixty years or older are subject to some form of abuse. However, it is possible, if not probable, that prevalence rates are underestimated in part due to underreporting.
Our aging population is rapidly growing, which means that if elder abuse continues to be underestimated and unrecognized, its prevalence rates will continue to grow too. It is imperative that individuals, communities, agencies, governments, and nations acknowledge elder abuse, and that they then take action to reduce the rates of elder abuse incidence. We must each do our part, in whatever capacity we live and work, to raise awareness of elder abuse.
Our list below includes just some of the organizations and agencies that do very important work studying and/or addressing incidence of elder abuse, at a global scale, in Canada, and in our province of British Columbia.
· National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Regional (British Columbia)