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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) of 2011 is June 15, 2011

Elder abuse, like domestic violence and child abuse, comes in many forms. It is recognized by experts as a public health crisis for which there are no socio-economic borders. Millions of older Americans are abused, neglected, or exploited each year, with an estimated 84% of cases going unreported.

June 15, 2011, is the 6th Annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) - an international effort in support of the United Nation’s International Plan of Action on Ageing acknowledging the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. The Administration on Aging (AoA) participated in the first international observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in 2006, hosted by the World Health Organization. AoA is honored to once again publicly observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, putting abuse and neglect of older persons in a global spotlight.

On June 15th, Assistant Secretary for Aging, Kathy Greenlee, will join members of Congress, officials from the Department of Justice, and internationally recognized experts and advocates in the field of elder justice for an Elder Abuse Forum on Capitol Hill. The bi-partisan Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus is hosting the Elder Abuse Forum, one of many events taking place around the world to call attention to elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

AoA has a long history of working to prevent and address the issues surrounding elder abuse. Since 1972, the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program has provided consumer advocacy and complaint resolution for residents of long-term care facilities. The 1988 reauthorization of the Older Americans Act provided for state formula grants to address elder abuse, as well as established the National Center on Elder Abuse, a national resource center that for over 20 years has provided information and technical assistance about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation issues and programs.

This administration is committed to fighting elder abuse through the Elder Justice Act, which was signed into law by President Obama last year. The passage of the Elder Justice Act was a significant move forward. This legislation provides the first-ever authorization of Federal resources for adult protective services demonstrations to test the best methods of identifying, responding to, and preventing elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In fact, the President’s 2012 Budget proposes $15 million in first time funding for this purpose, as well as, $1.5 million in first time funding to address these challenges in Native American communities.

In addition to much needed financial resources, the effort to end elder abuse is critically dependent on the commitment and partnership between government agencies and community organizations, such as law enforcement, adult protective services, aging services providers, and faith-based organizations, as well as individual personal commitments to the cause. Each of us plays a crucial role in advocating for the safety and well-being of seniors, and through our collaborative efforts it is possible to protect and empower this population and to bring more offenders to justice for their crimes.

Today, individuals and organizations across the world are urged to raise awareness of the various types of abuse to which older individuals are subjected. Let World Elder Abuse Awareness Day of 2011 be a renewal of a life-long commitment to creating communities that safeguard and protect one of our greatest assets, our elders.

Learn more about this day and how you can do your part to end elder abuse.