World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

 

History of WEAAD

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. WEAAD provides an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons.

President Biden’s 2021 WEAAD Proclamation

WEAAD Statement of Attorney General Merrick Garland

Elder Abuse In the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Opioid Crisis

Elder abuse is an intentional or negligent act by any person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to an older adult, affecting millions of older adults annually.  Older adults are mistreated in multiple settings (homes, nursing homes) by family members, friends and neighbors, professionals, and strangers.  Elder abuse can result in premature death, the deterioration of physical and psychological health, destruction of social and familial relationships, and devastating financial loss.  

An older man wearing a face mask

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for our country and the world, but has disproportionately impacted older adults. The CDC reports that 8 out of 10 COVID-19 related deaths have been among adults age 65 and older, and 40% of COVID-19 related deaths are among nursing home residents, although fewer than 4% of older Americans reside there.  The pandemic has also isolated many older Americans, undermining our ability to detect elder abuse.  Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic follows on the heels of the opioid crisis, which has also devastated older Americans for the past two decades, contributing directly and indirectly to various forms of elder abuse.  

As the world takes this day to remember the harms committed against older adults, and exacerbated by these unprecedented events, the Department of Justice remains steadfastly committed to addressing elder abuse in all its varied forms. 

The Department’s Elder Justice Activities

Federal Law Enforcement Activities

United States Department of Justice Main Building

The Department is pursuing a wide array of foreign and domestic schemes impacting older Americans.  For example:

  • The Department has aggressively investigated numerous transnational fraud schemes (e.g., Jamaican lottery and technical-support scams), bringing criminal and civil actions against hundreds of defendants from around the globe who victimized millions of Americans.
  • The Department is actively pursuing nursing homes that are denying Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries essential nursing services to which they are entitled.
  • And the Department is committed to prosecuting a wide array of CARES Act and COVID-19 fraud schemes. 

More information on the Department’s elder justice cases can be found at the Elder Fraud Initiative and the Elder Justice Initiative Press Room.
 

Bolstering State and Local Elder Justice Efforts

The Department supports the efforts of state and local law enforcement, and other elder justice professionals, through the development of training, resources, and tools.  For example:

  • The Department supported the development of the Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement (EAGLE), a web module designed for law enforcement to quickly find resources to respond to elder abuse. 
  • Based on the EAGLE, the EAGLE Online Training is the first elder abuse training for law enforcement that has been certified by the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST). 
  • To promote the proliferation of elder abuse multidisciplinary teams, the Department launched the first Multidisciplinary Team Technical Assistance Center, including both live technical assistance and online resources. As part of this effort, the Elder Justice Network Locator Map displays where these networks are located throughout the country. 
Elder Abuse Guide for Law Enforcement (EAGLE) on Bolstering State and Local Elder Justice Efforts

 

Providing Support to Older Victims

Neighborhood for Providing Support to Older Victims

The Department also supports older victims.  The Department manages the National Elder Fraud Hotline, the first national hotline to assist older victims and their families in reporting fraud and/or finding local assistance.  For those searching for resources online, the Elder Justice Neighborhood Map is designed to easily locate state-specific resources.  The Department is advancing prevention through its elder abuse prevention research. The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) is promoting elder justice through:

  • The Elder Justice AmeriCorps Legal Fellowship Program, helping to address the myriad legal needs of elder abuse victims (Blog). 
  • Funding state and local level elder abuse programs that provide direct community- and systems-based services to older victims (OVC Fact sheet).  
  • In 2020, funding the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to develop training and technical assistance for law enforcement on interacting with older victims and ensuring they have access to services in their community. 

 

Raising Public Awareness

A group of senior citizens applaud in the conference room

Only one in 24 cases of elder abuse is ever reported, suggesting that public awareness remains a critical need in the fight against elder abuse.  Elder Justice Coordinators throughout the country regularly participate in public awareness events. The Elder Justice Website hosts a wide array of public awareness resources: 

  • Information about various forms of elder abuse can be found on the About Elder Abuse page. 
  • The Transnational Elder Fraud Strike Force has identified trending schemes targeting older adults, with the belief that the best way to inoculate against scams is to know about them. 
  • Ready-made community presentations, complete with a PowerPoint, an instructor’s manual, and handouts designed to allow anyone to provide a community presentation.

Consumer Resources

Get Help for Financial Fraud

Anyone can be a victim of a scam.  If you or someone you know has been a victim of elder fraud, or you want to learn more about common scams and warning signs, help is standing by at the National Elder Fraud Hotline.

National Elder Fraud Hotline

 

COVID-19 Scam Awareness

It is important to know about common types of financial scams, many of which currently involve COVID-19.  Below are four different ways to learn about COVID-19 scams.    

Licensed material is being used for illustrative purposes only. Any person depicted in the licensed material is a model.

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