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June 15th is Elder Abuse Awareness Day

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), elder abuse is defined as a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person. This type of violence constitutes a violation of human rights and includes physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse; financial and material abuse; abandonment; neglect; and serious loss of dignity and respect.

Abuse of older people is an important public health problem. Studies have shown the following:

  • Around 1 in 6 people 60 years and older experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year.
  • Rates of elder abuse are high in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, with 2 in 3 staff reporting that they have committed abuse in the past year.
  • Rates of elder abuse have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Elder abuse can lead to serious physical injuries and long-term psychological consequences.
  • Elder abuse is predicted to increase as many countries are experiencing rapidly ageing populations.
  • The global population of people aged 60 years and older will more than double, from 900 million in 2015 to about 2 billion in 2050.

Exactly two years ago, on June 15, 2022, the WHO and partners published the following:

Tackling abuse of older people: five priorities for the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–2030)

The document established five priorities, which are outlined in the infographic below:

  • Combat ageism as it is a major reason why the abuse of older people receives so little attention.
  • Generate more and better data to raise awareness of the problem.
  • Develop and scale up cost–effective solutions to stop abuse of older people.
  • Make an investment case focusing on how addressing the problem is money well spent.
  • Raise funds as more resources are needed to tackle the problem.
Infographic: abuse of older people: a hidden problem.

Local Resources

Do you live in Barnstable County? Are you or someone you know experiencing elder abuse? To report elder abuse call (800) 922-2275. This line operates 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.

You can also contact Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands at (508) 394-4630.

Want to Learn More?

Elder Abuse Prevention | Elder Services of Cape Cod & the Islands (

WEAAD Factsheet FAQs (

Tools and Tips | USC Center for Elder Justice

Abuse of older people (

Violence Info – Abuse of older people (

Elder Abuse|Violence Prevention|Injury Center|CDC

NCEA – State (

Caregiver’s Handbook | Publication Ordering System and Contact Report System (

Eldercare Locator (

Protect Yourself From Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation! 2013 – English (