On Time and How Important World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Is

By By Edwin Walker, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Aging, Administration for Community Living, Health and Human Services

As I write this, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (June 15) is a month away.  For many of us, a month passes by in the blink of an eye. I feel like I just put away the holiday decorations and here we are in mid-May. The bad news is that time flies. But, the good news is that you’re the pilot.  For all of us, WEAAD presents a unique and compelling opportunity to show the world how much we care about elder abuse. I hope you won’t let that opportunity pass by without taking some of your precious time to give it attention and action!

All over the country, individuals, communities and states are hosting events for WEAAD.  There are many ways, big and small, to acknowledge the day:

  • Wear purple or a purple ribbon (and be prepared to talk about elder abuse if someone asks about your sartorial choices)
  • Post on Facebook or Tweet (#WEAAD2016) about elder abuse
  • Join the National Center on Elder Abuse’s “Finish this Sentence” campaign (“Together we can fight elder abuse by…”)
  • Ask your elected officials to sign a proclamation acknowledging WEAAD (here’s a great resource for a proclamation: Elder Abuse: What You Must Know)
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper (even if it doesn’t get published, you’ve probably educated the editor about the issue)
  • Host an event that brings people together – it can be educational, fun, inspiring, and awareness-raising. For ideas, check out our WEAAD Event map and be sure to add your event!

If any other public health issue affected 1 in 10 older Americans and was responsible for 300% mortality rate, I’m confident that we’d have an entire month dedicated to it. That’s why WEAAD is so important: we must continue to raise awareness and educate the public, professionals, policy makers, and the press about elder abuse. As time moves on, I know that our collective efforts will turn World Day into World Month and give elder abuse the attention it deserves. Thank you for taking the time to participate in #WEAAD2016!

P.S.  Join ACL for a webinar on “Getting the Word Out: Creating Compelling Communications for WEAAD” on Wednesday, May 11, 2:00 PM (Eastern). Learn about working with the press, how to use social media, and what the research says about effective messages about elder abuse. No registration required just join at the time of the webinar.


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Special Thanks to Judith D. Tamkin

We are sincerely appreciative to Judith D. Tamkin for her gift to help establish the USC Center on Elder Mistreatment’s website. Her deep and personal commitment to eradicating elder abuse is helping to reshape our understanding of elder abuse and ultimately save innumerable older adults from abuse and neglect.