University of Delaware

Solidarity and support

Blue Hens urged to 'Go Purple' June 15 for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day


4:08 p.m., June 13, 2014--Elder abuse -- a devastating, worldwide problem with potentially life-threatening consequences -- remains a hidden threat to the well-being of older citizens. Recent research indicates that more than one in 10 seniors may be affected in the U.S., but only a fraction of cases ever comes to light. This means that relatively few victims get the help they need. The consequences are grave: Older individuals who experience mistreatment are at greater risk for premature death, and the costs of elder financial exploitation run in the billions. 

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on Sunday, June 15, is an opportunity to shed light on the problem. Throughout the U.S. and around the globe, communities promote awareness through a wide spectrum of creative outreach efforts, including public rallies, art contests, social events, professional conferences, public service announcements and government sponsored events. People are also urged to reach out to -- and honor -- older relatives, friends and neighbors on this day. But there is one colorful and simple way to show solidarity and support:  Wear the color purple on June 15. 

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WEAAD is of special importance at the University of Delaware because of its longstanding commitment to raising national elder abuse awareness and promoting research on the topic through the Clearinghouse on Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly (CANE). Recognizing the importance of research to inform policy and practice, faculty members Suzanne Steinmetz and Karen Stein, associate professor of organizational and community leadership in the School of Public Policy and Administration, established CANE in 1986. Now based at the Center for Community Research and Service (CCRS), this publicly accessible online resource has been accessed by thousands of researchers, policy makers, practitioners and the public.

More recently, Stein and Sharon Merriman-Nai, an assistant policy analyst at CCRS and the director of CANE, have taken on an additional role in promoting the latest research on elder abuse. In 2012, Stein became editor-in-chief of the Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect (JEAN), the nation’s leading journal on elder mistreatment. JEAN features multidisciplinary articles on research, practices and policy, and commentaries. Merriman-Nai serves as associate editor.

To commemorate WEAAD, the editors dedicated the JEAN June-July 2014 Special Issue to the topic of World Elder Abuse Awareness, highlighting international research and cultural perspectives from Australia, Ireland, Iran, Nepal, Russia and other countries. The issue includes a commentary by Merriman-Nai and Stein outlining the history and the potential of WEAAD to catalyze change: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day: The Concept, the Reality, and the Promise.

In 2006, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) established World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in support of the United Nations International Plan of Action, which recognizes the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue.

"Together, we have the power to prevent elder abuse," Merriman-Nai said.

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