June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was launched in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations, in an effort to unite communities around the world to raise awareness about elder abuse.

Each year, an estimated 5 million older adults are abused, neglected, bullied or exploited. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations and communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect and exploitation of elders. In Missouri, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) receives and investigates reports of abuse, neglect, bullying and exploitation of the elderly and disabled. Last year, DHSS received and investigated 42,422 reports, an average of about 116 each day. That number is on the rise, though the crimes are vastly underreported.

DHSS is excited to host a WEAAD Facebook Live event on Tuesday, June 14 at 11 a.m. to help build strong supports for elders in Missouri. Join the discussion and learn how to recognize the signs of adult abuse and how to report it. Everyone is encouraged to wear purple and communities across Missouri are encouraged to display purple ribbons, flags, pinwheels or light up landmarks on June 15 to bring awareness to this public health issue.

Anyone who suspects a senior or disabled Missourian is being abused, neglected, bullied or exploited, should call the toll-free Missouri Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-392-0210 or report online at health.mo.gov/abuse. The hotline is operational from 7:00 am through 8:00 pm, 365 days a year. Online reporting is available 24/7.

WEAAD reminds us that elder abuse has implications for all of us. It is a call to action for individuals, organizations, and communities to learn how to identify, address, and prevent elder abuse so we can all do our part to support everyone as they age. To learn more about WEAAD, Adult Abuse in MO, and what you can do to help or to access the WEAAD promotional toolkit, visit: www.health.mo.gov/weaad.