With seniors, what counts as "elder abuse?"

One issue of concern to many thousands of seniors and their families across North America is elder abuse. Every adult wants to ensure that their aging parents, whether living at home or in an assisted living community, are treated with dignity and respect.

To help protect seniors, in 2006 the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse marked June 15 of every year as Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

As reported recently in the Chillicothe Gazette, elder violence can appear in many forms, not just physical abuse. Elder abuse can manifest itself as neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and even financial exploitation.

And it’s not a small number of seniors and their families who suffer from elder abuse; according to the newspaper, estimates from the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging say that elder abuse costs a total of $2.6 billion every year from as many as five million seniors, but only a small fraction of these abuses are reported to authorities.

The best way to prevent elder abuse is education. Knowing that elder abuse isn’t just physical assault, can help families of seniors understand that they can keep an eye out for any kind of mistreatment, and even prevent it before it happens.

Check RetirementHomes.com throughout the week for special articles on Elder Abuse Awareness Day.