World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2015


Posted June 13, 2015

Did you know that at least one in 10 older adults living in the United States experiences abuse, neglect, or exploitation every year—and that, for every reported case of elder mistreatment, an estimated 23 cases go unreported? Such mistreatment can manifest as neglect or self-neglect; emotional, psychological, physical, or sexual abuse; financial abuse and exploitation; and abandonment.

Social workers play essential roles in preventing, identifying, and addressing elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. That’s why the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) supports World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) and encourages social workers to raise awareness of elder mistreatment in their own workplaces and communities—whether on the June 15 WEAAD observance, in the weeks leading up to the July 13 White House Conference on Aging, or throughout during the year. Every action by every individual is needed to end elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.


In 2002, the United Nations (UN) convened the Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid. The 151 countries participating in the assembly created the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (MIPAA), which identified elder abuse as a significant public health and human rights issue and called upon policymakers to eliminate all forms of elder mistreatment.

In support of this MIPAA objective, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) launched the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, 2006. The UN General Assembly recognized the event in December 2011. WEAAD unites individuals, organizations, and communities in raising awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults.


The year after the Madrid assembly, the Elder Justice Coalition formed to address elder mistreatment within the United States. The launch of this coalition, of which NASW is a member, coincided with the introduction of the Elder Justice Act (EJA), which the coalition worked for seven years to pass. The EJA was enacted into law in 2010 as an amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Much work remains to be done realize the goals of the EJA, in large part because the law—which was authorized at slightly less than $200 million per year—has received only $4 million in funding to date.

The Obama administration has exerted a strong leadership role on elder justice, advocating for EJA funding and spearheading multiple federal initiatives. Moreover, elder justice is one of four priority issues for the 2015 White House Conference on Aging.

On May 22, 2015, the National Center on Elder Abuse (a national resource center funded by the Administration on Aging) hosted an international webinar focused on WEAAD. The webinar, which is archived on NCEA’s Web site, included pilot findings from the Worldwide Face of Elder Abuse study, presented by study coinvestigator and NASW member Georgia Anetzberger.

On June 15, 2015, NASW will join elder justice advocates from around the world at the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day First Global Summit, which marks the 10th anniversary of the observance. The theme of the summit, for which NASW is a national partner, is elder financial exploitation.


Download the Administration for Community Living’s WEAAD Toolkit and visit the INPEA’s WEAAD Resource Library for information and outreach ideas.

Reply to this blog or post a message to NASW’s Facebook page or Twitter account to let your social work colleagues know what you and your organization are doing to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.


Practice Perspectives:

Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation (2014)

Reporting Requirements for PQRS 2015 for Individual Measures Used by Clinical Social Workers (2015)—includes information about PQRS Measure 181, Elder Maltreatment Screen and Follow-Up Plan

NASW Press:

Empowering Social Workers for Practice with Vulnerable Older Adults (Soniat & Micklos, 2010)

Encyclopedia of Social Work (20th ed., 2008)—includes articles on Elder Abuse (Rathbone-McCuan) and Adult Protective Services (Brownell & Marlatt Otto), available online or in print

Social Work Speaks (10th ed., 2015)—includes policy statement on Aging and Wellness

NASW Specialty Practice Sections:

Articles on elder abuse (Hong, 2011; Cross, 2007; Goldman Rosen & Grocki, 2002)

Webinar, The Complexities of Elder Abuse (Anetzberger, 2010)


Administration for Community Living (ACL)/Administration on Aging:

Elder Justice Coordinating Council

Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

National Center on Elder Abuse

Prevention of Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation program

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

Managing Someone Else’s Money (2013)

Money Smart for Older Adults (2013)—developed with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Protecting Residents from Financial Exploitation: A Manual for Assisted Living and Nursing Facilities

Department of Justice (DOJ):

Elder Justice Initiative

National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life

         Federal Trade Commission (FTC):—information on scams and identity theft

Pass It On—campaign to raise awareness of scams and identity theft (English and Spanish)

Filing a complaint with the FTC

         U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging hearings on elder mistreatment (2014–2015):

Broken Trust: Combating Financial Exploitation of Seniors

Catch Me If You Can: The IRS Impersonation Scam and the Government’s Response

Hanging Up on Phone Scams: Progress and Potential Solutions to This Scourge

Private Industry’s Role in Stemming the Tide of Phone Scams

Trust Your Instincts? Tools to Empower Seniors to Identify Scams and Fraud 


Elder Justice Roadmap report (2014), funded by DOJ and the Department of Health and Human Services

Elder abuse workshop summary (2013) and related materials from the Institute of Medicine Forum on Global Violence Prevention, of which NASW is a member

National APS Resource Center (funded by ACL) / National Adult Protective Services Association

National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse

National Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative—funded by ACL


Chris Herman, MSW, LICSW

NASW Senior Practice Associate


  1. Thank you, Ms. Jones, for your interest in helping to prevent elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. There are many ways you can get involved in your community. Please visit the Volunteerism page on the Eldercare Locator ( for information and ideas, or call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 to speak directly with someone about volunteer opportunities in your community.

  2. I am interested in volunteering to help the elderly people. I have been scammed myself and I would like to help keep older citizens safe and stop the criminals.

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