chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
June 10, 2024

Supporting World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Erica Costello
The PDF which includes endnotes and footnotes in which this article appears can be found in Bifocal Vol. 45 Issue5.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is celebrated each year on June 15th, providing an opportunity for communities around the world to raise awareness on the important issue of abuse, neglect, and exploitation among older persons.  

According to the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA), in the United States, 1 in 10 community-dwelling adults will experience abuse. Globally, the World Health Organization further estimates that around 1 in 6 people, ages 60 years and older, experienced some form of abuse in community settings during the past year. However, it is estimated that for every reported case of abuse against older adults, there are 24 undetected cases.

Because of the prevalence of elder abuse, it is important for attorneys and practitioners in the field of aging to learn about physical, financial, and emotional signs of elder abuse, which can include any of the following:

  • Unexplained or untreated physical injuries,
  • Malnutrition, dehydration, or unusual weight loss,
  • Displaying fear, anxiety or hypervigilance,
  • Isolation from family or friends,
  • Unpaid bills,
  • Sudden changes or unexplained withdrawals from banks or financial accounts, or
  • Sudden changes to wills, powers of attorney, or financial documents.

To assist in the prevention of elder abuse, the Commission on Law and Aging has developed several great publications and resources for attorneys, consumers, and other professionals, including:

A Checklist for Attorneys on Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation, developed by COLA and Aging and the Investor Protection Trust as part of the Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program.

A Power of Attorney Tip Sheet, offering five safeguards to consider adding to any power of attorney for finances.

A Chart on the Adult Protective Services Reporting Laws, providing an overview of mandated reporters, when to report, and how to report in each state.

A Replication Manual for Elder Abuse Fatality Review Teams, providing useful information about creating EAFRTs, conducting reviews, collecting data, developing reports and recommendations, and sustaining teams.

Additionally, we recently published a podcast episode with COLA Special Advisor Deirdre Lok, who is the Director and Managing Attorney at the Weinberg Center for Elder Justice at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in New York. In the podcast, Ms. Lok discusses how the Weinberg Center is structured to provide safe, short-term shelter to victims of elder abuse and the role of attorneys in elder justice.  You can listen to this episode on our website at Advocates of Aging Podcast  or by subscribing to our YouTube Channel.

Attorneys and practitioners in aging play a significant role in helping victims of elder abuse and preventing further abuse from occurring. As cases of elder abuse continue to increase throughout the US and globally, COLA remains committed to assisting in the prevention of abuse, neglect, and exploitation among older persons.

To support WEAAD, you should consider connecting with local partners to discuss ways you can collaborate and raise awareness on issues of elder abuse in your community.  For more information on WEAAD resources and events, visit

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.

Erica Costello

Director, ABA Commission on Law and Aging