By Kimmy Moon, Project Coordinator and Alexis Calleros, Project Assistant at the National Center on Elder Abuse
September 14, 2021
Elder abuse is a serious public health and human rights issue that impacts us all on some level. This also means that there’s something – big or small – each of us can do to prevent elder abuse in our communities. While the COVID-19 pandemic exposed just how widespread ageism is in our society, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) leaned into the interdependence of all age groups to promote elder justice. Through various ways, the NCEA team strengthened connections with youth advocates to facilitate the flow of support between generations. We’ve Zoomed into classrooms across the country to share what elder abuse is, how it impacts people of all ages, and why prevention matters. In July 2021, the NCEA presented to a group of teenage scholars at the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program on ‘Building Community Supports to Prevent Elder Abuse.’ Aspiring nurse practitioners, psychologists, and policymakers tuned into this conversation of elder abuse advocacy. Witnessing how they processed the material and hearing questions like, “Do signs of cognitive impairments often get confused with just common aging symptoms?” put into perspective their interest to learn more. The outcome of this presentation is a small part of a long-term goal – to build youth momentum on issues that can impact their futures. Speaking to students and engaging their perceptions on social problems such as elder abuse has been such a rewarding experience.
The NCEA also tapped into community-based initiatives and distributed elder abuse prevention resources to LA Care’s “Back to School” events to spread awareness among children, parents, and families about community solutions to elder abuse. Most importantly, we welcomed a stellar group of youth volunteers demonstrating intergenerational solidarity through community service. Read more from our youth volunteers below:
“Throughout my time in high school, I wish to accomplish both goals of academic excellence and activities that serve and support the greater community around me. The COVID-19 pandemic has left me with extensive time to meditate and really think about activities I wanted to be involved in. Of which, I found the Pre-Med Club, which I am currently the leader of, at my school. I developed a profound interest in the science behind medicine and the moral goals physicians have accomplished in their own journey of helping others. Through this club, I was urged to find a research/volunteer position that truly interested me. The NCEA interested me because they highlighted the social injustice component of elder abuse which was not very prevalently talked about amongst the community; however, this topic was as big as any other injustice. Stopping elder abuse was mainly based on outreach and the wider community response toward systematically changing circumstances that lead to elder abuse. These aspects touched on a deeper side of connecting with the community. I thought about my grandparents and the unique roles they have played within my life and their own community. From this, I concluded that the NCEA was the right place for me to become involved with as a youth searching for activity and wider community outreach.” – Anthony
“As a high school student preparing for college, I am very interested in going into medicine in the future. I came to the NCEA to get a feel of what it is like to be part of an organization that is dedicated to ameliorating the lives of others, an essential part of the medical field. I am personally very close with my own grandparents, so elder abuse prevention was something that I felt I wanted to work in. It has been so fulfilling to serve as a youth volunteer at the NCEA, and I have thoroughly enjoyed working on projects and opportunities. My favorite project so far is definitely collaborating with the team to create a teen toolkit in light of WEAAD (World Elder Abuse Awareness Day). Seeing the final product and how it was used on multiple platforms to spread awareness was really amazing. One way I think we can all take initiative in preventing elder abuse is to first recognize the problem and be aware about its prevalence in our society. That said, in order to build up a community that is informed and knowledgeable, reach out to others. Whether it’s having conversations or posting a hashtag, take part in building a body of advocates for older people!” – Avery
“NCEA has provided me with both the resources and platform to educate myself and others on the detriments of elder abuse. Through the many outreach opportunities, I had the privilege to engage in, I explored the multifaceted topic of elder mistreatment while actively learning how to combat this issue from a collaborative community-based standpoint. Some of my favorite projects include helping to create the Opioid Factsheets (Healthcare Professionals, Older Patients and Caregivers), locating nationwide events dedicated to celebrating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and conducting literature searches on the prevalence of elder abuse in Asian Pacific Islander communities among many more. Participation in these activities broadened my knowledge on elder mistreatment and enabled me to advocate for better treatment of the older population. As young adults, it is crucial for us to continuously remind our peers to treat the elderly with respect and to uphold our responsibility in society to create a safe and inclusive environment for people of all ages and demographics.” – Eric
Youth can be at the forefront of social change to create a society free from elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation as we all age. How are you engaging youth to raise awareness of elder abuse? Please let us know!