Educating on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day logo

Pathlights is commemorating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) with the launch of a new educational video to help raise awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and share information about support services and community resources people can access for themselves and use to help others.

The video details how Pathlights’ teams up with organizations like the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and other community groups to educate and prevent all types of abuse faced by older adults and adults with disabilities. See the video at https://youtu.be/YMI_BxffKuY

Elder abuse is widespread. Every year an estimated 1 in 10 older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. And that’s only part of the picture: Experts believe that elder abuse is significantly under-reported and as few as 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities.

“WEAAD on June 15 serves as a call-to-action for our communities and reminds people that, when we come together, we can prevent elder abuse from happening,” says Velencia Myton, Supervisor of Adult Protective Services (APS) at Pathlights. “We are partnering with financial institutions, hospitals, law enforcement, and faith-based organizations to educate everyone about the importance of protecting older adults, preventing isolation, learning how to spot the warning signs of abuse, and addressing abuse or neglect.”

She notes that it is up to all of us to prevent and report suspected abuse. Some tips:

  • Learn the signs of elder abuse – watch for Emotional & Behavioral Signs like unusual changes in behavior or sleep and fear or anxiety. Observe Physical Signs of Abuse like cuts, sores, bruises, or burns and signs and indications like torn or stained clothing that may show the person is not caring for themselves. Look out for Financial Signs — unusual changes in bank account or money management such as more frequent withdrawals, unpaid bills, or fake signatures on financial documents.
  • Prevent isolation. Call or visit older friends, neighbors, and relatives and ask how they are doing on a regular basis and watch for signs of abuse. Isolation puts people at greater risk of experiencing abuse or neglect.
  • Talk to friends and family members about how we can all age well and reduce abuse with programs and services from local community nonprofits like Pathlights.
  • Be alert for scams. Scammers are smart and there are many ways they try to intimidate and confuse people to send them money or share a Social Security number. Never provide that confidential information to a caller.

As an advocate for older Americans, Pathlights provides trained professionals in APS to investigate abuse through the Illinois Department on Aging. The experienced team can visit potential victims, conduct a screening, address concerns, and help eliminate and reduce the risk of abuse. Pathlights’ conducts a holistic assessment to determine all types of need including nutrition gaps, caregiver support, and eligibility for benefits to help older adults live independently in their home for as long as possible safely and with dignity.

If you suspect an older adult or an adult with disabilities is a victim of elder abuse in the Palos, Lemont, Orland, Stickney or Worth Township area, please immediately make a report to Pathlights at 708-361-0219 or through the state hotline at 1-866-800-1409. Your identity will remain anonymous and your information confidential.