Elder abuse comes in many forms, and can occur in many settings. Centers like Montco SAAC help in a number of ways to increase awareness and decrease the risk of elder abuse among center participants and the community at large. Our program mission is to fight elder abuse through education and intervention and to match services to the needs of the aging community. We work to enable older adults and people with disabilities to maximize their independence, self-sufficiency and dignity by advocating for their basic needs and helping them access essential services.
Attending Montco SAAC Can Help Prevent Elder Abuse
Participation in Centers like Montco SAAC may help prevent elder abuse in several ways:
We provide opportunities for recreational and social activities; involvement in these activities decreases isolation, which is a risk factor for elder abuse.
Self-neglect, a form of elder abuse, may be prevented through nutrition, exercise and health education programs offered at senior centers.
We educate seniors about warning signs, prevention techniques and help available for elder abuse; this education may help seniors to avoid abuse or to get assistance if abuse is occurring.
Volunteer opportunities in centers provide meaningful roles and a sense of purpose, which may in turn decrease the risk of depression and self-neglect.
Abuse can be physical, psychological, sexual, financial or in the form of neglect. While one may think that abuse involves doing something bad to another, it is also abusive not to do something that needs to be done.
The facts about Elder Abuse
Elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or "trusted" individual that lead to, or may lead to, harm of a vulnerable elder.
How Many Elders Are Abused? According to the Department of Justice, a minimum of one in nine or 11 percent of Americans over age 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse in the past year.
Many Cases Go Unreported. For every one case of elder abuse, neglect, exploitation, or self-neglect reported to authorities, at least five more go unreported.
Who Commits Elder Abuse? In almost 90 percent of the elder abuse and neglect incidents with a known perpetrator, the perpetrator is a family member, and two-thirds of the perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
Financial Abuse is Common. Elder financial abuse is regarded as the third most commonly substantiated type of elder abuse, following neglect and emotional/psychological abuse. While underreported, the annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse is estimated to be at least $2.6 billion dollars.
Reports Increasing. As the number of elders increases, so does the problem. Adult Protective Services (APS) found that elder abuse reports have increased by 16 percent, comparing data from 2000 with that of 2004.
Death Rates Higher. For those elders who have been mistreated, the risk of death is 300 times greater than those who have not been abused.
Who is at risk?
Women and Very Elderly Most at Risk. Elder abuse affects seniors across all socio-economic groups, cultures, and races. However, women and "older" elders are more likely to be victimized. In 2003, two out of every three (65.7 percent) elder abuse victims were women, and in 20 states, more than two in five victims (42.8 percent) were age 80 or older.
Montco SAAC has recently partnered with the Women’s Center of Montgomery County and Laurel House in addressing the needs of victims of elder abuse in our communities. Through a grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, we are working with Meals on Wheels volunteers, training them to recognize signs of abuse in the frail, homebound senior population. We will be reaching out to long term care facilities about providing short term shelter to older victims of abuse.
If you or someone you know is being abused, call your local Aging & Adult Services office. They are responsible for providing Older Adult Protective Services that safeguard the well-being of vulnerable adults who are at risk of abuse. In Montgomery County, they can be reached at 1-800-734-2020.
Or contact the following programs:
The Women’s Center of Montgomery County, 1-800-773-2424
Laurel House, 1-800-642-3150
Montco SAAC Offers Support for Caregivers
Taking care of an older relative can be stressful. Sometimes the stress builds to the point where abuse can occur. When older adults attend Montco SAAC’s Adult Day Services, family caregivers get a break. Programs such as Adult Day provide caregivers with much-needed respite, thus reducing the risk of elder abuse by family members. For more information, call 610-275-1960.
To learn more about the different forms of elder abuse, please click on one of the following links: