Florida Dept of Health
Contact: Valerie Eldridge-Bratsch
June 14, 2019 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 15, 2019, marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, first launched in 2006 to raise awareness on elder abuse and neglect across the globe.
Approximately one in 10 Americans aged 60 and over have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as five million elders who are abused each year. Estimates of elder financial abuse and fraud costs to older Americans range from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion annually. It is also estimated that only one in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities*. (*National Council on Aging)
Abuse and maltreatment can happen in many places like an older person’s home, family member’s house or assisted living facility, and can happen to anyone—no matter the person’s race, sex, religion or cultural background. There are many types of abuse, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment.
If you need to report a suspicion of elder abuse, call Florida Abuse Hotline at 1.800.96.ABUSE (1.800.962.2873). Press 1 to report suspected abuse, neglect or exploitation of the elderly or a vulnerable adult. This toll-free number is available 24/7. It is important to report suspected abuse as soon as possible.
The good news is that we can prevent and address the issue of elder abuse. There are many ways to strengthen our social supports through policies, services, and programs that keep us integrated in our communities as we age.
• We can design and equip community centers to work as intergenerational spaces that allow older people to build relationships and participate in the work, play, and life of our neighborhoods. In our community, the Nassau County Council on Aging provides a variety of activities, classes, workshops and presentations at their Fernandina Beach and Hilliard Life Centers. Please visit https://www.nassaucountycouncilonaging.org/ for more information. • We can think about the role of transportation in reducing social isolation and adjust systems so that we can all continue to move throughout our communities as we age. If you or someone you know needs transportation services, please visit the NassauTRANSIT website at https://www.nassaucountycouncilonaging.org/ to see what services you may be eligible to utilize.
• We can figure out new and better ways to arrange and coordinate the teams, agencies, and programs that work specifically with older people. ElderSource serves a seven-county area across Northeast Florida by identifying the needs of elders and caregivers, developing plans to meet those growing needs, contracting with local agencies to deliver services to clients and providing oversight of the contracts to ensure good stewardship of funds and quality services. ElderSource provides many services, like their recent Empower Yourself workshop which addressed strategies to avoid being scammed. More information on programming and services, for both consumers and partner organizations, can be found at https://www.myeldersource.org/.
• We can develop programs to educate families and professionals who work with older adults to understand the importance of preventing isolation, how to spot the warning signs of abuse, and what to do to address abuse or neglect.
Locally, the Florida Department of Health in Nassau (http://nassau.floridahealth.gov) is beginning an Aging Friendly initiative to promote active, engaged, and healthy living for people of all ages. If you are interested in becoming involved, please email Mary von Mohr at [email protected] or call at 904.557.9133.
About the Florida Department of Health
The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.
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