[This piece was written by Jo-Ann Costantino of The Eddy.]
It’s been called one of society’s best-kept secrets, but the problem of elder abuse is more common than you think. May is National Older Americans Month, a time to shed light on and raise awareness of this growing issue impacting our vulnerable aging population.
Frail older adults can fall victim to abuse, neglect, or exploitation, often by family members or those who are entrusted to care for them. As baby boomers age, that problem is only expected to intensify in our country.
The National Center on Elder Abuse reports one to two million seniors are abused in the U.S. annually. Only one in an estimated 14 cases are ever reported, making it dificult to know the true extent of the problem.
Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional/psychological, sexual, financial, verbal mistreatment and neglect and abandonment.
Signs and symptoms to look for in an abused elder include: unexplained physical injury, agitation/confusion, emotional distress, social and physical isolation, unexplained loss of financial independence/control, home in disarray and lacking basic necessities and fear of caregivers.
Concerned about this increasing issue, The Eddy nonprofit network of senior services launched an innovative program in 2008 to help protect and advocate for seniors. The Eddy Haven for the Abused Elderly was a first-of-its-kind initiative in our region and remains one of few in the country to target breaking the cycle of elder abuse.
The program serves individuals 60 years of age or older who reside in Albany and Rensselaer counties, offering a comprehensive range of free and confidential services designed to care for and help elder abuse victims who need to leave their homes.
Services may include a short-term safe residence, nursing and home care, counseling and legal advocacy, case management and referral to support services. The Eddy’s medical and professional staffs prepare an individualized care plan to help link victims to a range of services he or she may need.
The Eddy also collaborates with various agencies, including social services, housing, law enforcement, legal advocacy and community services, and works with law enforcement and police officers who are often the first to spot and respond to abusive situations.
If you know of a senior in need, The Eddy can provide resources to help victims escape an abusive situation. For more information on The Eddy Haven for Abused Elderly, please call 518-271-5072.