June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month

6/11/20244 weeks ago

June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month. Did you know that at least 1 in 10 older adults has experienced some form of abuse, but only 1 in 14 cases is reported? Elder abuse is an action, or failure to act, that creates harm or significant risk of harm for someone age 60 or over. It can manifest as physical, emotional or sexual abuse as well as neglect or exploitation.

Know the Signs

Common signs of elder abuse include insufficient food, clothing, shelter, health care, financial concerns, or unsafe housing. Self-neglect is also considered a form of elder abuse, and it is routinely the most common form of abuse that gets reported locally.

Issues like these are not always easy to spot from the outside, but these are common warning signs:

  • Unexplained financial loss
  • Unexplained bruises or injuries
  • Weight loss, poor hygiene, bedsores, inappropriate clothing
  • Mismanagement of medications or frequent hospitalizations
  • Home safety issues, hoarding behavior, lack of proper utilities, unsafe structures
  • Eviction or foreclosure
  • Wandering
  • Unsafe behavior related to smoking, stove usage, or driving
  • Unpaid bills or compulsive spending
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Rapid decline in health or mental status
  • Sudden confusion
  • Neglecting Care Needs
  • Hesitation to speak openly  

What You Can Do To Help 

  • If you are concerned about someone you are close with, try talking to them to learn more about what is going on in their life. Listening without judgment and showing interest are good ways to start the conversation.
  • If you think someone is in immediate danger, call 911.
  • If there is no immediate danger, but you are concerned about abuse or neglect, call the Mass Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275.

The confidential hotline is a gateway to your local Adult Protective Services program, which can help evaluate the situation and work with the older adult to help reduce risk factors. Adult Protective Services is a social work-based program that alleviates and reduces risk for people age 60 and over. Protective Service Workers work with elders, their family and community agencies to provide medical, mental health, legal and social services.

More Information

You can learn more about the signs of elder abuse on Wednesday, June 12 at the Cambridge Council on Aging (806 Massachusetts Ave.), 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Protective Services staff from Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services will be available to answer your questions. 

For additional resources for seniors in Cambridge, visit the Cambridge Council on Aging's website or call the Council on Aging at 617-349-6220.