CCR: June 15 Is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

by JOLENE J. DUFEK, Elder Rights Project Program Manager, Legal Action of Wisconsin

In 2006, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations declared June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. 

Now, every year in June, communities across the nation honor survivors and raise awareness of elder abuse. Advocates plan awareness walks, educational programs, resource fairs and more.

What Is Elder Abuse? 

According to Wisconsin law, elder abuse is physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse; treatment without consent; or neglect or unreasonable confinement of someone aged 60 or older.

What Does Elder Abuse Look Like?

Most readers have heard media reports of domestic violence, scams, guardian misconduct, neglect and more. There are resources in this newspaper, at the Aging & Disability Resource Center and in consumer reports that regularly warn us about abuse. 

What we do not often see are reports about what abuse looks like when someone is currently struggling or in danger. Here are some warning signs that people you know may be experiencing abuse. They may:

• Abruptly stop attending regular social functions or family events

• Make sudden claims of cognitive impairment or dependence on another person

• Report injuries, mistreatment and/or threats of institutionalization, abandonment or withholding family visitation

• Experience intimidation by someone in charge of their health or finances who has a history of dishonesty, substance dependency or criminal activity

• Exhibit changes in behavior such as a sudden lack of money, depression, fear of angering someone, excusing poor treatment, tolerating insulting comments, anxiety and/or shutting down

Whom Does Elder Abuse Affect?

Everyone. Elder abuse is a social and economic issue. When an elder is abused, the need for health care, long-term care and legal services goes up. Many recovering from abuse need access to victim services and benefits that they never needed before. It is in the best interest of all of us to educate ourselves about recognizing abuse and where to get help.

How Can I Help?

Get involved. This year for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Door County Interdisciplinary Team will be sponsoring events June 12-15 at the ADRC, 916 N. 14th Ave. in Sturgeon Bay, to raise awareness about elder abuse. 

Among the events, the ADRC is hosting a Shred Fest each day, when residents may take any documents they want safely discarded, such as bank statements, tax records, bills and invoices. There is a maximum of two shopping-sized bags or small boxes that will be shredded per household. Please take loose paper only – no paper clips or rubber bands.

On June 15, 12:30-1 pm, the ADRC will also host speaker Jolene Dufek of Legal Action of Wisconsin’s Elder Rights Project, who will discuss joint-account abuse. 

Please contact the ADRC ( at 920.746.2372 if you have questions or need more information. 

The Door County Coordinated Community Response Team – a group of area professionals who focus on improving the quality of life for area seniors – submitted this article.