The article, “Elder abuse and the power of social isolation and loneliness,” makes the case that, worldwide, nearly 16 percent of older adults experience some form of mistreatment and, in the United States, that’s 1 in 6—or nearly 17 percent.
The authors are Linda Phillips, PhD, RN, senior director of research and education at the University of Arizona Center on Aging, and Lisa O’Neill, DBH, MPH, an assistant professor in the UA Division of Geriatrics, General Internal Medicine and Palliative Medicine, member of the Arizona Attorney General’s Task Force Against Senior Abuse and chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Aging.
Both also are with the center’s Arizona Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program. In addition, Dr. Phillips is a Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project.
They note that social isolation of older adults that can be complicated by health issues and lead to loneliness also can make them more susceptible to potential abuse, whether in nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, private homes or public places.
The authors advocate for people to support programs in their community like the Pima Council on Aging and Meals on Wheels, but also encourage people to get to know their older neighbors, visit or call regularly them and older family members, and watch out for their interests.
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