Every June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

This is an occasion for international organizations, governments, citizens, and concerned legal professionals in local communities across the globe to raise awareness about the epidemic of abuse affecting older populations. All of us can work together to find solutions, in June and throughout the year, to help prevent elder abuse from occurring.

If you or someone you know suspects an elder person may be the victim of abuse, it is critical to report it to the proper authorities immediately. Elder abuse often occurs within relationships where there is an expectation of trust, and those trusted individuals inflict harm or distress. It can be physical, emotional, or sexual in nature, and include neglect and financial exploitation. Also, unfortunately, over 60% of all incidents originate with a family member.

We know you may have questions on how to get the help you need right here in Florida.

Let us share five ways you can step in to prevent and stop elder abuse.

1. Call the police or dial 911. If the situation is life-threatening, do not wait to call the police or dial 911 and remove the aging person from danger immediately.

2. Build relationships with mandatory reporters. Doctors, health care providers, clergy members, and other select professionals, are required to report suspected incidents of abuse to authorities. Do not hesitate to ask these respective persons to be vigilant on behalf of your elderly loved one, and check in periodically.

3. Learn more about elder rights. Just like young citizens, Older Americans have rights. Unfortunately, due to many age biases at times, their rights may seem to slip away. Do not wait to learn more about elder rights from the National Center on Elder Abuse.

4. Get to know your long-term care ombudsman. There is never a wrong time to connect with professionals whose purpose is to make sure seniors are safe and healthy. Especially, when you or your loved one lives in a skilled nursing home, get to know your long-term care ombudsman. The ombudsman is a senior adult advocate and at times may have the power to intervene when help is needed.

5. Learn how to report abuse in Florida. Reporting suspected harm of a senior can be the first step in ensuring he or she is protected. Remember, you do not need to prove abuse, neglect or financial exploitation is occurring in order to receive help. Agency professionals may investigate your suspicions, regardless.

We know that this article may raise more questions than it answers. Dealing with elder abuse is a very difficult topic for many of us and the more education you can have on hand the better an advocate you can be. Do not wait to contact us with your elder care questions now or in the future.