The World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) happens each year on June 15th. It was officially recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution 66/127, December 2011, following a request by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), who first established the commemoration in June 2006. It represents the one day in the year when the whole world voices its opposition to the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations.
Addressing Elder Abuse
Elder abuse can be defined 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”. It is a global social issue which affects the Health and Human Rights of millions of older persons around the world, and an issue which deserves the attention of the international community.
In many parts of the world elder abuse occurs with little recognition or response. Until recently, this serious social problem was hidden from the public view and considered mostly a private matter. Even today, elder abuse continues to be a taboo, mostly underestimated and ignored by societies across the world. Evidence is accumulating, however, to indicate that elder abuse is an important public health and societal problem.
Elder abuse is a problem that exists in both developing and developed countries yet is typically underreported globally. Prevalence rates or estimates exist only in selected developed countries — ranging from 1% to 10%. Although the extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, its social and moral significance is obvious. As such, it demands a global multifaceted response, one which focuses on protecting the rights of older persons.
From a health and social perspectives, unless both primary health care and social service sectors are well equipped to identify and deal with the problem, elder abuse will continue to be underdiagnosed and overlooked.
If you are concerned that someone is experiencing elder abuse, it’s okay to ask for help.
Where to get help in New Zealand
If there is immediate danger, call 111 for the police or ambulance.
Anyone can call 0800 32 668 65 (0800 EA NOT OK) whether you are being abused or you are concerned for someone who might be. You can also text 5032 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call Age Concern on 0800 65 2 105 - they will be able to direct you to where you can get help.