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.
WEAAD: GLOBAL CONTEXT
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.
ELDER JUSTICE IN THE UNITED STATES
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.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED IN WEAAD
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.
NASW RESOURCES ADDRESSING ELDER ABUSE, NEGLECT, AND EXPLOITATION
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
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)
FEDERAL ELDER JUSTICE RESOURCES
Administration for Community Living (ACL)/Administration on Aging:
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
Money Smart for Older Adults (2013)—developed with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Department of Justice (DOJ):
Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
Consumer.gov—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):
OTHER ELDER JUSTICE RESOURCES
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 Indigenous Elder Justice Initiative—funded by ACL
Chris Herman, MSW, LICSW
NASW Senior Practice Associate