June Blog – Elder Abuse Awareness

 

Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse Awareness Month: What You Need to Know and How You Can Help

On June 1, 2022, Governor Gretchen Witmer declared the month of June to be Elder and Vulnerable Adult Abuse Awareness Month in the state of Michigan. 

In her address, Gov. Whitmer said, “Michigan’s older adults are valued members of our state, and it is our responsibility to ensure their safety and minimize crimes against them.”

Indeed, older adults and adults with disabilities are at a higher risk of experiencing abuse or victimization than almost any other population. 

  • 1 in 10 older adults in the U.S. experience abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
  • Crimes against older or vulnerable adults are among the most under-reported. 
  • More than 73,000 older adults in Michigan are victims of abuse each year. 

The good news is that much can be done to help, and The Senior Alliance is proud to advocate on behalf of our community’s most vulnerable. 

What is Elder Abuse?

“Elder abuse” is a broad term used to capture the various ways that harm is inflicted upon older adults. Often, people will assume that hurt comes at the hands of the people who love them, and while this can be the case, it is not the only way that older adults are caused to suffer. Truly, older adults are vulnerable to targeting because of their age. 

Physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and exploitation, including a litany of scams that target older adults, are all forms of elder abuse. In Michigan, state law makes “vulnerable adult abuse” a crime punishable by imprisonment for no more than 15 years, a fine of up $10,000, or both. 

How Can We Help?

If you or someone you know is experiencing or has experienced any form of elder abuse, The Senior Alliance has resources available to help. 

  • For adults living in a nursing home, adult foster care home, or another long-term care facility, the Michigan Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program works with residents to resolve problems and promote high-quality care. One of its aims is to “improve the long-term care system by advocating for laws, regulations, and policies benefiting residents.”
  • The Information and Assistance Call Center is a free service offering resource options for older adults, their families, and caregivers. Our Information Specialists are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to answer questions and discuss the services and programs available to those in our service area. To speak to an Information Specialist, call us at (800) 815-1112. 
  • Our advocacy work informs elected officials at all levels of government about the desires, needs, health, and interests of older adults in our service area, including elder abuse prevention. If you’re interested in learning more about our advocacy work and how you can get involved, contact us at advocacy@thesenioralliance.org.

At The Senior Alliance, we encourage Michiganders to learn all they can about elder and vulnerable adult abuse prevention. As Governor Whitmer proclaimed, “During this month, I join with the Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Task Force and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to raise awareness of elder and vulnerable adult abuse in Michigan and urge Michiganders to learn more about the signs of abuse to protect those in need and decrease elder and vulnerable adult abuse in our state.” 

Shouldn’t that be the goal of every one of us?

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