Letters to the editor from the week of June 19
Stopping elder abuse begins with one
EDITOR: One person, one action, one nation. This is your call to action to be aware of elder abuse that is happening around us every day. Every year an estimated 5 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation. And that’s only part of the picture; experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23 cases go unreported. Agencies such as Petaluma People Services Center are part of our local effort to build awareness.

In general, elder abuse refers to intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that lead to or may lead to harm for a vulnerable elder. Physical abuse, neglect, emotional or psychological abuse, financial abuse and exploitation, sexual abuse and abandonment are all considered forms of elder abuse. Self-neglect is also a considered mistreatment. It occurs anywhere, even in Petaluma — in the home, in nursing homes or other institutions. Sadly it affects seniors across all socio-economic groups, cultures and race.

Most cases of elder abuse go undetected. Don’t assume that someone has already reported a suspicious situation. You do not need to prove that abuse is occurring; it is up to the professionals to investigate, but you do need to contact the authorities. Other ways you can help: make a commitment to volunteer with senior programs, give a caregiver a break, or contact PPSC for other ways to get involved. One person, one action, one nation — you can be the one.

Elece Hempel, Executive Director of Petaluma People Services Center

Link to Editorial on Elder Abuse