World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2021 will be held June 15th. The United Nations General Assembly officially recognized this day as an annual initiative in its 66/127 resolution, following a request by the International Network for Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA). World Elder Abuse Awareness Day or WEAAD is a designated day in which the entire world voices its opposition to any form of abuse of the older generation.

WEAAD aims for communities worldwide to promote a better understanding of the abuse older people suffer by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting them. Elder abuse has gained worldwide recognition and is a serious crime against some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. In the United States, it is estimated that over 10% of seniors experience some form of elder abuse or neglect.

The term “elder abuse” refers to any intentional act or failure to act by a caregiver or within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust that causes harm or creates a risk of harm to someone 65 years of age or older. It is widely under-detected and under-reported. A silent problem that robs seniors of their dignity, security and, in some cases, can cost them their lives.

The 2019 U.S. Census reports in Rockdale County, Georgia, a population of over 90,000 residents; 15% are 65 years and older, and 7% of those 65 and older are disabled. The need to focus on at- risk adults and elder abuse became apparent in Rockdale County due to significant growth in the elderly population. So, through tireless efforts, a multi-disciplinary team called PEARL, which stands for Protecting our Elderly and at-risk Adults with Resources for better Living, was created.

The Rockdale County PEARL program collaborates with local/regional prosecution, law enforcement, government, social service agencies, and organizations. These partners may interact with, assist, serve, investigate, or enforce State and Federal laws in cases where at-risk adults 65 years or older or disabled adults between 18-64 have been abused or taken advantage of.

PEARL is victim focused. With prompt reporting of alleged abuse, elderly and at-risk adults can be removed from an abusive situation or provided resources to assist them. Moreover, the abusers and the perpetrators are held accountable.

Signs of Elder Abuse

♦ Decisions about an older person’s life are not in their best interest.

♦ Sudden changes in behavior

♦ Unusual changes in spending or money management

♦ Unexplained physical injuries

♦ Unexplained sexually transmitted diseases

♦ Unhealthy or unsafe living conditions

What can you do to prevent elder abuse?

♦ Learn the signs of elder abuse and how we can solve the issue together.

♦ Prevent isolation. Call and visit loved ones and encourage them to strengthen their circles of connections.

♦ Talk to friends and family members about how we can age well and reduce abuse in our communities by engaging in activities that help us connect, learn, give, and grow as we age.

♦ Sign up to be a friendly visitor to an older person in our community.

For more information on PEARL and Elder Abuse prevention, please visit us online or contact Bernadette Snyder, Program Coordinator at (770)-278-8216.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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