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For many older adults, loneliness and isolation make them easy targets for mistreatment and neglect. Frequently, older adults are abused and neglected by people they know and trust. Physical, financial and emotional abuse can and does happen to the elderly in the Upper Peninsula.
What is elder abuse?
Elder abuse involves physical and/or emotional mistreatment which degrades, coerces, manipulates or exploits an elderly person and/or their resources. It includes: physical, emotional, financial and neglect issues.
Why does elder abuse occur?
Older adults are the most rapidly growing segment of a society that often devalues aging and tolerates negative attitudes and behaviors toward older adults. For many older adults, aging is accompanied by physical and emotional difficulties that create care-giving demands on families who often experience frustration, stress and a lack of support. Alcoholism, family violence, poverty and lack of adequate care increase the chances for abuse and neglect. Isolation and loneliness create special needs, which if remain unmet, will further increase the risk for abuse and neglect.
How can elder abuse be prevented?
Older adults can reduce their risk of abuse and neglect by employing positive care choices. These include: staying active; maintaining social contacts and avoiding isolation; using appropriate professional and legal resources before entering contracts or in matters concerning financial and/or property issues; getting regular medical check-ups; participating in social service programs (such as home health care, homemaker aide and Senior Nutrition programs); and by reporting abuse and neglect.
How to get help
Helping older adults who are in an abusive situation is not always easy. Fear of retaliation, embarrassment, helplessness, lack of services, and fear of losing independence can create barriers for seeking or accepting help.
Please report suspected cases of abuse and neglect to your local county Department of Social Services-Adult Protective Services or call the Dial Help Senior Helpline at 1-800-562-7622 or 482-4357 for more information on services for older adults.
Michigan Upper Peninsula Mental Health Training, Prevention and Wellness Institute-Elder Abuse Prevention and Education Program supported by Title III G Older Americans Act funds, the Michigan Office of Services to Aging, and the Upper Peninsula Area Agency on Aging. For more information call (906) 482-4880.
Funded in part by the Legal Services Corporation, Michigan State Bar Foundation, OSA and Area Agencies on Aging regions 9, 10 & 11.