An Often Overlooked and Misunderstood Issue
Experts estimate only one in five cases of domestic violence against the elderly is reported, and some national studies indicate the ratio may be as low as one in 14. While neglect is the most common form of elder maltreatment, elder abuse can also include physical, sexual and emotional abuse, and financial exploitation.
Leaders from victim organizations offer several factors that may explain why many seniors in abusive situations do not seek help:
- They feel isolated and trapped.
- They have financial and physical limitations.
- They have been immersed in an abusive situation for years, if not decades.
- They do not wish to report a family member to authorities.
- They believe they have failed as a parent, "causing" the abuse to occur.
Elder Abuse Prevention
As part of its HopeLine program, Verizon Wireless launched an initiative in 2004 to bring attention specifically to elder abuse in the United States.
The multifaceted campaign titled "Abuse Ignores Age", kicked off in St. Louis. Verizon Wireless created brochures and posters to raise awareness of the elder abuse issue, and promoted a 24-hour, free helpline. The information was displayed in public spaces frequented by seniors including grocery stores, banks and houses of worship.
Partial List of Grants Made in 2004:
- Verizon Wireless provided a $5,000 grant to Kimochi, a San Francisco-based agency that provides 24-hour respite services for abused seniors living in the agency's transitional facility.
- The Mae Volen Senior Center in Boca Raton, Florida, was the recipient of a $9,400 foundation grant from Verizon Wireless to upgrade its information system.
- In Richmond, Virginia, HopeLine provided phones to neighborhood crime patrol groups, which serve elderly citizens.
- The Providence House in New Jersey serves people over 50 who are in abusive situations in the Toms River area. Phones donated by HopeLine were used in Project Reach, which distributes an average of three phones per month to men and women who are abused.
- The Lexington, South Carolina County Sheriff's Department is utilizing HopeLine phones for seniors in a program called S.A.F.E. (Senior Adults with Fones for Emergencies).
Verizon Wireless Employees Help The Elderly
Verizon Wireless hosts "Lunch and Learn" brown bag seminars for employees focusing on elder care with topics including medical care, insurance and elder abuse. The company also encourages volunteerism in the community, including at senior centers, nursing homes and shelters.