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For every one reported case of elder abuse, five more are unreported according to a recent National Elder Abuse Incidence Study. To address this growing and vital issue, the National Crime Prevention Council

(NCPC) created a comprehensive awareness kit, Safer Seniors, with fact sheets, brochures and information on keeping seniors safe.  This October, NCPC, home of McGruff the Crime Dog, will also launch a new campaign to help battle elder abuse.

Underreported acts of abuse are growing at frightening rates — with the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimating 1 to 2 million Americans ages 65 or older becoming injured, exploited, or mistreated by someone upon whom they depend for care.

Abusers may be spouses, family members, personal acquaintances, professionals in positions of trust, or opportunistic strangers who prey on the defenseless.   NCPC will distribute useful resources including radio spots, public service announcements (PSAs), and tool kits for senior citizens and their families to help increase the awareness and overall prevention of elder abuse.

“Elder abuse comes in many different forms — physical, emotional, or financial abuse. Each one is devastating in its own right,” explained 90-year-old veteran actor Mickey Rooney, in a March 2011 statement to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.  “What other people see as generosity may, in reality, be the exploitation, manipulation, and sadly, emotional blackmail of older, more vulnerable members of the American public. I know because it happened to me.”

NCPC encourages seniors, family members, friends, and caregivers to be attentive to the warning signs of abuse, including:

  • Physical Abuse – Slap marks, unexplained bruises, most pressure marks, and certain types of burns or blisters, such as cigarette burns
  • Neglect or isolation from friends and family – Withdrawal from normal activities, pressure ulcers, filth, lack of medical care, malnutrition, or dehydration
  • Emotional Abuse — Frequent arguments between caregiver and the senior, unexplained changes in alertness, or other unusual behavioral changes
  • Sexual Abuse – Bruises around the breasts or genital area and unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
  • Financial Abuse/Exploitation – Sudden change in finances and accounts, altered wills and trusts, unusual bank withdrawals, checks written as “loans” or “gifts,” and loss of property

Individuals 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population, according to the National Care Planning Council. Statistics suggest that by the year 2050 there will be 3.3 people over age 60 for every child under four years of age in the United States.

NCPC currently has a number of resources available to help seniors prevent potential abuse and appropriately report any possible incidence of it within the home.  A valuable NCPC resource is Senior and Telemarketing Fraud 101, which is a publication that takes an in-depth look at how to prevent seniors from becoming potential victims of telemarketing fraud.  These and other helpful NCPC publications and brochures on senior safety are available through the NCPC website.

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