On June 1, the Buncombe County Commissioners proclaimed June as Elder Abuse Awareness Month, a time for our residents to educate themselves, support the elders in their lives, and raise awareness of elder abuse in their communities.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Month runs Mother’s Day to Father’s Day, with a culmination of activities on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, June 15, 2021. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day highlights solutions to elder abuse and encourages communities to reevaluate the systems and structures in place to protect our seniors. Due to COVID-19, many organizations have had to modify their typical World Elder Abuse Awareness Day activities. Buncombe County Health and Human Services Adult and Aging Services Department, in collaboration with partners, will staff a table outside of 35 Woodfin on Tuesday, June 15 to raise awareness about elder abuse by handing out purple ribbons and educational information.
Elder abuse is a serious issue in our communities but is hard to track due to the lack of reporting. The World Health Organization estimates that as few as one in 24 cases of elder abuse is reported. Last year in Buncombe County, Adult Protective Services received 1,794 adult protective services reports alleging elder abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation.
There are a number of factors including the pandemic that make it challenging for older adults to stay involved with and connected to their communities as they age. Two of the primary factors that contribute to an increased likelihood of abuse include social isolation and mental impairment (such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease). It's important to know the warning signs of elder abuse and report them to Adult Protective Services. Some warning signs include that the individual:
- Stops taking part in activities he or she enjoys
- Looks messy, with unwashed hair or dirty clothes
- Has trouble sleeping
- Loses weight for no reason
- Becomes withdrawn or acts agitated or violent