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The Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities Commits to Justice on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Annapolis, MD (June 14, 2021) – The Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities Long-term Care Ombudsman Program is working to raise awareness about the serious problem of elder abuse. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD), commemorated annually on June 15, is an effort to unite communities across the world to voice our opposition to any form of abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elders. WEADD serves as a call-to-action for our communities to raise awareness about elder abuse, and reaffirm our county’s commitment to the principle of justice for all. 

“We must respect and value our elders, and ensure that the final years of their lives are the best years,” said County Executive Steuart Pittman. “The work the Department of Aging and Disabilities does to ensure our older residents remain active and engaged in their communities is fantastic, and I commend them for all their efforts to support our older residents and end elder abuse.” 

Elder abuse is both a public health and a human rights issue. Globally, the population is aging, with the number of older people in the world expected to reach 1.4 billion by the year 2030. Research suggests that 4 to 6 percent of elderly people sustain some kind of abuse. Experts believe that elder abuse is significantly under-reported, in part because many communities lack the social supports that would make it easier for those who experience abuse to report it. Research suggests that as few as 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities.

"Protecting the rights of our elders is a community-wide responsibility," said Karrisa Gouin, Director of the Department of Aging and Disabilities. "We recognize this day and every day to both raise awareness and enact prevention so that older adults can live with the dignity and respect they deserve." 

When we come together, we can prevent elder abuse. There are many ways to strengthen our social supports through policies, services, and programs that keep us integrated in our communities as we are aging. 

  • We can design and equip community centers to work as intergenerational spaces that allow older people to build relationships and participate in the work, play, and life of our neighborhoods.
  • We can think about the role of transportation in reducing social isolation and adjust systems so that we can all continue to move throughout our communities as we age.
  • We can figure out new and better ways to arrange and coordinate the teams, agencies, and programs that work specifically with older people.
  • We can develop programs to educate families and professionals who work with older adults to understand the importance of preventing isolation, how to spot the warning signs of abuse, and what to do to address abuse or neglect.

By doing all that we can to strengthen the social support structure, we can reduce social isolation, protect communities and families against elder abuse, and build a nation that lives up to our promise of justice for all.

If you would like more information on this topic, please contact Paula Currence, Long-term Care Ombudsman Program Director for the Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities, at 410-222-4332. TTY users, please call via Maryland Relay 7-1-1. All information is available in an alternative format upon request.

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