It’s a disturbing topic. One I truly wish there was no need to address.
I’m talking about Elder Abuse and, sadly, it’s a topic that’s on the minds of many of those on the front lines in our community, the incredible people who, through our partner agencies, are charged with making sure our seniors are able to live with the dignity and respect they deserve.
Last Friday, more than 80 of these people, including social workers, religious chaplains, nurses, home health aides, agency leaders, and others, came together as part of Greater MetroWest CARES for the professional development program Protecting Our Seniors: Understanding Elder Abuse.
They came together to learn. They learned that New Jersey has one of the highest rates of elder abuse in the nation. They learned that elder abuse takes many forms, including physical, emotional, financial, neglect, and more. They learned that victims of abuse are most often traumatized in their main residence. And they learned that 90 percent of cases of abuse are perpetrated by someone who knows the elder, be it a family member or another caregiver.
They came together to share their own stories and experiences.
They came together to improve their practices. How can they recognize signs of elder abuse in their clients? What should they do when they suspect abuse is taking place? How can they help caregivers prevent abuse from happening?
Here is a shocking and moving video about the realities of elder abuse:
One victim featured in the video calls this epidemic “a dark mark on humanity.” This is clearly such an important issue. The federal government addressed it through the Elder Justice Act passed in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act. In New Jersey, our Adult Protective Services law requires mandatory reporting of suspected abuse by all those who work with seniors, including health care professionals, law enforcement officers, and first responders. And currently, the NJ state legislature has sent legislation to Governor Christie’s desk requesting that he establish a task force to look into this growing crisis.
Elder abuse is a problem that we at Federation and our partner agencies will certainly not be able solve. But I am proud to be part of an organization that cares so deeply about the most vulnerable in our community. Greater MetroWest CARES is made up of eleven agencies that serve the needs of our senior community. Together, they identify issues that they jointly face and come together to strategize how they can work together to provide the best for those they serve.
To find out more about Elder Abuse and what is being done to combat it, you can take a look at the Adult Protective Services Elder Abuse Fact Sheet, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse website, or visit the NJ Office of the Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly website.
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