June 20, 2024 at 10:45 a.m.

World elder abuse awareness day

Dear editor,

June 15, 2024, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. On that day, communities in the USA and all over the world will sponsor events to highlight solutions to this systemic social challenge. On June 12, 2024, The Aging and Disability Resource Center of Southwest Wisconsin-Iowa County (ADRC), in partnership with the Iowa County I-Team, is proud to host a scams prevention event with presentations on Identity Theft and Surviving a Scam, followed by SINGO (Bingo, but with music.) The ADRC and Upland Hills Health will also be hosting an Advanced Directive Workshop on June 26, 2024. In addition, throughout the month of June, the ADRC will bring awareness to this social issue with a display of pinwheels which will be located outside of the ADRC. Each of the 119 pinwheels will represent a case of elder abuse reported in Iowa County in 2023.

As Americans, we believe in justice for all. Yet we fail to live up to this promise when we allow older members of our society to be abused or neglected. Older people are vital, contributing members of American society and their maltreatment diminishes all of us. Just as we have confronted and addressed the social issues of child abuse and domestic violence, so too can we find solutions to address issues like elder abuse, which also threatens the well-being of our community.

Our policies and practices make it hard for older people to stay involved with and connected to our communities as they age. As a result, older people are more likely to experience social isolation, which increases the likelihood of abuse and neglect. We can design stronger societal supports to keep our older people connected and protect them from abuse, whether financial, emotional, physical or sexual. When we address a root cause, like social isolation, we also make it less likely that people will become neglected. Older adults who are socially connected and protected from harm are less likely to be hospitalized, less likely to go into nursing homes and less likely to die. 

We can and must create healthier and safer living environments for older adults, including their homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.

Get more information about how to make a difference by visiting the National Center on Elder Abuse https://ncea.acl.gov or by calling the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 to explore local community services and supports or contact the ADRC at 608-930-9835.

Thank you!

Shelley Reukauf, Nikki Brennum, Kayla Larson and Valerie Hiltbrand