Highlights From the 5th Global Summit Celebrating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Members | June 18, 2019 | by Marsha R. Greenfield

“Elder abuse is a rampant, largely invisible, expensive, and lethal problem” was the key message of the fifth World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Global Summit held June 11.

“Elder abuse is a rampant, largely invisible, expensive, and lethal problem” was the key message of the fifth World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Global Summit held June 11. Focusing on all areas of abuse – physical, psychological and especially financial – the summit brought together staff from government agencies like the SEC and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, technology companies like EverSafe, financial services businesses like Vanguard and Wells Fargo, reporters from the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, and aging services leaders including LeadingAge and the Global Ageing Network.

Lance Robertson, the Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator of the Administration for Community Living led off the event, reminding the audience that elder abuse is one of ACL’s priorities. He charged the attendees to re-think how we talk about elder abuse and to treat it as a social justice issue.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Cynthia Thomas from the Committee for National Statistics at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM, formerly Institute of Medicine). She emphasized the need for more research, noting that that elder abuse occurs in all settings (home, group settings, etc.), and that health and mortality are affected by abuse. There needs to be a catalyst to turn research into action, she said, a Rachel Carson to do for elder abuse what Carson did for conservation and the environment.

There were panels on the role of financial institutions in preventing financial abuse; and how technology can help identify and protect seniors (focusing on smaller innovative companies that work directly with caregivers). Reporters on a media panel also emphasized the need for data to support human interest stories.

Elder justice has been one of LeadingAge’s priorities for decades, so we were especially pleased to see LeadingAge member Dan Reingold, President and CEO of RiverSpring and founder of the elder abuse shelter model, have his own slide in the presentation by New York Times reporter Nick Leiber, who talked about the feature he wrote on elder abuse shelters.

In addition, LeadingAge, the Global Ageing Network and interfaith partners Association of Jewish Aging Services, Catholic Health Association of the United States, the Jewish Federation of North America, the United Methodist Association of Health & Welfare Ministries, and the AGEING Concern Foundation issued a joint statement in honor of WEAAD and the important role aging services providers play in elder abuse prevention and protection.