PROTECTING SENIORS AT RISK OF ABUSE
The National Center on Elder Abuse defines elder abuse as intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or a “trusted individual” that harm, or may harm, a vulnerable senior. Abuse and neglect of seniors occurs in every community across the Commonwealth. As the protective services agency for 17 local towns and cities, Springwell has been at the forefront of elder protection and abuse prevention for nearly four decades. Core to Springwell’s mission is the belief that every senior is entitled to live independently in a safe environment. Our Protective Services Team is in place to work toward that goal.
Elder abuse takes many forms and can include financial exploitation, physical or emotional abuse, neglect, and even self-neglect. As often as 90% of the time, abuse comes not from a stranger but from a family member or close friend. Seniors frequently refuse to report abuse or neglect because of feelings of shame or embarrassment. They may fear retaliation, causing harm to their abuser (who is often a loved one), or losing their independence. An educated community can help. Anyone who is concerned for a senior can contact Protective Services confidentially to report abuse or neglect. “Springwell’s top priority is to respect the rights of seniors while helping them live safely in the least restrictive setting,” explains Springwell’s Protective Services Program Manager, April Evans, “We work together with the senior, the family, and other community resources to assess the situation and offer a range of service options such as homecare, counseling, financial management, or legal assistance.”
Springwell has seen increased reports of elder abuse and expects to respond to more than 1,500 in 2015. Despite this growth, the National Center on Elder Abuse estimates that only one in five cases, and possibly as few as one in fourteen, are actually reported. In recent years, Springwell has been involved in a number of initiatives and partnerships that respond to the problem of elder abuse. Several of them are outlined in this newsletter. When concerned friends, neighbors, or citizens report a concern to Springwell’s Protective Services, they become a part of the coordinated community solution to this problem.
More information on Springwell’s Protective Services Program.