News from the Field -
by Kendra Kuehn, National Adult Protective Services Association
Welcome to News From the Field! We are looking forward to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15th and all events happening from the national to local level. Dr. Elizabeth Podnieks and the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) launched the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, 2016 at the United Nations (UN). Their goal was to raise the global community’s awareness of elder abuse and prioritize innovative approaches. On the 15th Anniversary of WEAAD, the international community recognizes the increasing need to address elder abuse.
Here in United States, WEAAD is being recognized at all levels. National organizations will be hosting events. In DC, the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA), National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), and the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA) will be hosting their 5th World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Global Summit on June 11 at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Building. Past summits have featured presentations on elder abuse and financial exploitation from federal agencies, international presenters, and local organizations on innovative practices. On to the opposite coast, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) will host a WEAAD webinar on June 7th. “Stronger Together: Elder Justice Tools for WEAAD and Beyond” will feature federal partners ranging from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to the Social Security Administration and many more. Special guest and WEAAD founder, Dr. Elizabeth Podnieks, will discuss evaluating the past and present of WEAAD and looking to WEAAD’s future.
Many states are participating in WEAAD as well. In the Southwest, Arizona’s Department of Economic Security will host a day long event on June 13th. “Lifting Up Voices” has stellar keynotes including Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks: A Manifesto Against Ageism; national aging advocate Bob Blancato; and State Director for Arizona AARP Dana Marie Kennedy. The event offers 20 different breakout sessions and exhibitors from around the state. Moving north, the Minnesota Elder Justice Center will hold a WEAAD conference, Elder Justice: Awareness Moves Forward, on June 5th. The day features a keynote by Kathy Greenlee, former Assistant Secretary on Aging and CEO of Greenlee Global Consulting, and announcement of the recipient of the Jane Ochrymowycz Award for Advocacy. Breakout sessions highlight WEAAD’s call for collaboration among professions with topics ranging from criminal justice to state legislative updates.
Most importantly, local communities across the nation are holding WEAAD events. Community involvement and awareness is the most essential component in preventing and addressing elder abuse. For example, in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Financial Exploitation Prevention Task Force will hold Charting the Course to Battle Elder Financial Exploitation. This yearly event focuses on bringing together elder advocates, financial experts, and policy makers to develop innovative ways of addressing financial exploitation. The Consortium Against Adult Abuse (C3A) in Northeast Ohio covers five counties to educate and advocate on elder abuse and adult protective services support. On June 14, the C3A Consortium will host Exploring Elder Abuse Through a Trauma Informed Lens. The conference will cover specific elder populations such as veterans and immigrants. It will also feature a speaker on trauma informed self-care. Self-care is an essential and often overlooked necessity for advocates to have a sustained impact.
At the community level, WEAAD should not just be targeted to professionals, but should also engage community members and older adults . Knowledgeable seniors can help recognize abuse and spread the word among friends and family. In Burleigh County, North Dakota, APS will be holding an event at a senior affordable housing building. The event will include booths from other agencies and door prizes. Bringing WEAAD to the residents where they live can help reach more community members. WEAAD can also be a fun way to raise awareness. Buncombe County, North Carolina, will be hosting their 3rd Annual WEAAD Walk. The walk creates awareness and draws in the community with family activities like face painting, local BBQ, and ice cream. Montgomery County, Maryland, will pair speakers with demonstrations from the Montgomery County Police Departments K-9 Unit and Fire and Rescue. And if you want to be really out of the box, on June 15th Elder Options in Gainesville, Florida invites you to paint the 34th Street Wall in honor of WEAAD. Since the highway retaining wall was built it has been a recognizable public site with changing messages and images. On June 15th the message will become elder abuse awareness.
Hopefully these highlights have inspired you to participate in WEAAD 2019.
- Look for events through government agencies or local advocacy groups. You can also find events through the NCEA’s WEAAD map.
- Don’t have an event in your area? Plan your own! It can be as simple as putting information on elder abuse in a local newsletter to as large as a public awareness campaign. Don’t worry if it doesn’t fall exactly on June 15th, elder abuse awareness is a year-round need. Be sure to submit it to the WEAAD map for others to find.
- Promote elder abuse awareness on social media. From a guide to graphics to draft tweets NCEA has it laid out for you on an easy to use site. Be sure to use #WEAAD!
- Remember to Lift Up Voices for awareness year-round.