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June 15th was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Elder Abuse and exploitation is a rapidly growing problem in America and will continue to increase with the aging of our population. Lance Robertson of the Administration For Community Living, formerly the Administration on Aging at the federal level, released information on how to join the fight for elder justice. He stated that we need to:

BREAK DOWN ISOLATION

Elders without strong social networks are at greater risk. Stay in touch with older adults in your community. Support community efforts to fight isolation. Volunteer to deliver meals or act as a long-term care ombudsman who works to report abuse, neglect and exploitation.

LEARN TO SPOT RED FLAGS

There are a number of “red flags”: Isolation, especially by a caregiver; unpaid bills or utilities that have been turned off; unusual or quick changes in a will or other financial documents; missing medications; bruises or welts.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Elder abuse is more difficult to recognize than child abuse since children attend school. Thus, it is important that fellow citizens observe very carefully for any of the red flags mentioned. Bank tellers, nurses and physicians, senior services providers, hair stylists and others with front line access to seniors can make a difference. Report any red flags to the proper authorities. The statewide hotline in Michigan is (855) 444-3911. Let’s look out for others who may not be able to protect themselves from harm.