By State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was established by a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011. The resolution was taken up to recognize that by 2050, more than 20 percent of the world’s population will be 60 years old or older and to call attention to the deeply concerning situations many older persons face throughout the world.
“It is important to continue to raise awareness against the physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse of our older adults in Pennsylvania and elsewhere,” DeLissio said. “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day assists in ensuring that this issue continues to receive the attention it needs to safeguard and put in place protections against potential abuse.
“Elder abuse is a preventable crime and with the assistance of public officials, private health care providers, and concerned citizens working together, proper attention can be given to the prevention of and to the provision of services when appropriate.
“Today, more than ever, our older adults are being targeted by telemarketers and scammers or being abused by some caregivers, even their own family members. As an advocate for good long-term care policy and as a former professional in the field of senior care and services, I am committed to working with our state agencies and others to enact and strongly enforce policies that protect our older adults financially, physically and emotionally.”
Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual or emotional abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, abandonment and self-neglect. Signs of abuse can include unexplained bruises, burns or broken bones, lack of basic hygiene, access to adequate food, clean or appropriate clothing, unexplained weight loss, social isolation, changes in banking habits, or giving away possessions without reason.
“It is important that we all do our due diligence to look for warnings signs of elder abuse of those around us, and contact the appropriate agencies for assistance,” DeLissio said. “Pennsylvania has the fourth highest percentage of citizens age 60 or older in the country, and elder abuse has been on the increase with neglect and financial exploitation being the two lead forms of abuse.
“Because of the breadth and depth of the issue, it takes thoughtful policy and proper funding to address this problem. I am proud to continue to work with great advocates to raise awareness, and enact smart policy while providing support and guidance through my district office and through events such as my annual senior fair which this year will be held on Thursday, September 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Roxborough Memorial Hospital, 5800 Ridge Ave. in Philadelphia , under the big white tent on the parking lot off of Rector Street.”
Anyone who suspects elder abuse should call the 24-hour statewide elder abuse hotline at 1-800-490-8505, or contact their local Area Agency on Aging. In Philadelphia, concerned citizens can call the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging at 215-765-9000, and in Montgomery County they can call the Montgomery County Area Agency on Aging at 610-278-3601. Pennsylvania law protects those who report suspected abuse from retaliation and civil or criminal liability; all calls are free and confidential.