Senior Citizens Day has been observed since President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act on Aug. 14, 1935. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan officially designated Aug. 21 as National Senior Citizens Day as a way to honor senior citizens in the U.S. who made positive contributions in their communities. The day is also designed to bring awareness of social, economic and health issues that affect senior citizens, including our most vulnerable adults, those who live in assisted living facilities and nursing homes.

Approximately a tenth of Americans aged 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse, according to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA). This includes physical, sexual or emotional abuse, as well as financial exploitation.

Social isolation and mental impairment are two factors that make older adults vulnerable to abuse, according to NCEA. About half of those with dementia experience abuse or neglect, and a disproportionately high number of adults with disabilities experience interpersonal violence.

Financial exploitation – the misuse or withholding of an older adult’s resources by another – costs older Americans between $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion annually, according to NCEA. This type of abuse is likely underreported.

Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses. They can also be staff at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and rehabilitation centers.

This National Senior Citizens Day, make it a priority to reach out to older family members, especially those in long-term care facilities. Look for signs of elder abuse or neglect:

  • Bruises, pressure markets, broken bones, abrasions, burns;
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities or unusual depression;
  • Sudden changes in financial situations;
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene;
  • Threats or other uses of power and control by other individuals.

If abuse is suspected, call a local Adult Protective Services office, Long-Term Care Ombudsman, or police. Also consider contacting a nursing home abuse attorney. Your loved one may be entitled to compensation.

National Council on Elder Abuse

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