June 15 each year is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This is a day set aside to remember and honor victims of elder abuse. Fortunately, for those living in the Greater Lansing Area, there are many organizations concerned about elder abuse EVERY DAY.
Everyone deserves to feel safe. Unfortunately, 1 in 10 Americans over age 60 will experience some form of abuse this year. Even worse, experts believe for every one case of elder abuse or neglect reported as many as 23 cases go unreported.
People stay in abusive relationships for many reasons. Some people feel they must tolerate abuse in order to preserve a relationship, especially if they depend on the abuser for care. But an unhealthy relationship is not worth preserving and can even be dangerous.
In the Lansing Region, Tri-County Office on Aging (TCOA) and EVE (End Violent Encounters) have joined with other community partners to address issues of abuse and neglect for individuals age 50 and over through the Abuse in Later Life Program. Since 2010, the program has provided training to system professionals on elder abuse. Over time, the program expanded to provide direct services to victims over age 50 who have been involved in any type of abusive relationship via the Abuse in Later Life Program.
Often families and friends may not expect abuse when they see changes in someone they care about. This is because some symptoms of abuse may at first seem like a side effect of aging. And because abuse takes many forms, there can be many different indicators. Physical signs may include poor hygiene, malnutrition, unusual bruising or other injuries. Emotional signs could appear as withdrawal from normal activities or behavioral changes. Financial signs may include a lack of food or medicine, missing property or sudden changes in bank accounts.
If you or someone you know is in danger, you should ALWAYS call 911. You can also report suspected abuse anonymously to Adult Protective Services at 1-855-444-3911. If you would like to speak with the Abuse in Later Life Program Services Coordinator, call EVE at 517-372-5572. For general information and questions about Abuse in Later Life, please contact Tri-County Office on Aging at 517-887-1440.