Who do I call?
If you yourself are suffering as a victim of abuse, exploitation, or neglect, you are not alone. Many people in Schuylkill County care about you and what you are going through. Please tell your doctor, a friend, a member of the clergy, or a family member you trust, or call the Schuylkill County Office of Senior Services at 1-800-832-3313.
If you suspect that a elder you know is being victimized and there is an immediate danger to the elder’s health or well-being, call 911 or your closest police department right away.
Ageism contributes to conditions that disadvantage and marginalize older individuals in society. Ageism defined:
“A process of systematic stereotyping of and discrimination against people because they are old, just as racism and sexism accomplish this with skin color and gender. Old people are categorized as senile, rigid in thought and manner, old-fashioned in morality and skills … Ageism allows the younger generations to see older people as different from themselves; thus they subtly cease to identify with their elders as human beings …” (Robert Butler, Why Survive? Being Old in America, 1975)
Ageism contributes to conditions that disadvantage and marginalize older individuals in society. Ageist beliefs and policies categorize seniors as a homogenous group, ignoring diversity issues and individual needs.
Ageism entails prejudices and actions against older people that result in older adults being socially marginalized and devalued. It is argued that these attitudes provide a “covert basis for societal tolerance of elder abuse.”
Addressing ageist attitudes within society may begin to reduce the occurrence of elder abuse, or at least increase the public outcry against it.
When incidents of abuse and neglect occur, those involved may intersect with one or more systems.
- Healthcare System
- Judicial System
- Law Enforcement
- Social Services
- Faith Community
Abuse and neglect have serious physical and mental health effects which cry out for treatment and prevention strategies. Practitioners and researchers have been applying lessons learned from child abuse and domestic violence, and have also been exploring special issues specific to older adult patients.
Read about special issues related to elder mistreatment, health care professionals, and the healthcare system in this report –
National Research Council. Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America Washington, DC. (Click for report)
Elder abuse cases enter the courts in various forms and guises. Elder abuse might be an overt or underlying issue in criminal assault cases, fraud, civil cases, protective orders, guardianship/conservatorship cases, and institutional abuse or neglect.
Learn how courts are addressing elders as litigants, victims, and offenders. The American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging has created several reports on elder abuse reporting, durable power of attorney abuse, and legislative summaries for the National Center on Elder Abuse, and has also posted reports related to guardianship, promising practices in the courts, and the role of the judicial system in cases of elder abuse. (Click for ABA Reports)
Law enforcement officers are often called when safety is endangered or a crime might have occurred. While mistreatment of elders, like other forms of family violence, has traditionally been viewed as a family problem, criminal justice systems are adapting better to address elder abuse and neglect as a criminal issue.
Read about the National Institute of Justice support for projects to identify emerging promising practices and evaluate their effectiveness in improving prevention, detection, and intervention efforts. (Click for NIJ Projects)
Professionals and volunteers who provide aging and disability services are well-positioned to identify and report when someone is being mistreated. Their services are called upon to assist survivors of abuse and neglect.
Learn about social services for Older Americans and Individuals with Disabilities by visiting the website of the U.S. Administration on Aging, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living. (Click for AOA Information)
Clergy and others from the faith community are among the few, and in many cases, the only people who visit an elderly person’s home or care facility. A member of a faith community, lay or clergy, may be in a unique position to observe signs of abuse and neglect by family, paid caregivers, or facility staff.
An innovative collaboration between Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence and the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life (NCALL) examines the juncture of elder abuse and faith on a national level, and seeks to strengthen collaborations among faith community leaders and domestic violence, elder abuse, and sexual assault service providers.(Click here to read Where Faith and Safety Meet)