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News Release

International Association for Indigenous Aging

The International Association for Indigenous Aging (IA²) joins elder advocates worldwide in acknowledging World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).

Bringing more than 20 years of experience advocating for the well-being of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) elders, the International Association for Indigenous Aging joins others internationally in acknowledging and advocating for the well-being and protection of the treasured knowledge keepers in our communities.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched on June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day offers an opportunity to bring awareness to elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation in our communities. It also affords the chance to renew the call for policies, programs, and resources to help eliminate this epidemic facing tribal and other Indigenous elders.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022 is June 15.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022 is June 15.

Elder abuse comes with a tremendous physical, emotional, and financial toll. This includes the significant personal and community impacts up to and including early death for victims. In a 2019 study, International Association for Indigenous Aging Senior Project Director Dr. Jolie Crowder found that approximately 33% of American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) older adults had experienced abuse in the past year and 24.7% had experienced emotional abuse since the age of 60. We know most cases go unreported.

“People living at the intersection of dementia and abuse are the most vulnerable of our elders,” said Dr. Crowder. The scant existing data indicates those elders experience abuse rates as high as nearly 80%. “The stigma and cultural taboos surrounding both dementia and abuse, as separate issues, leave both caregivers and elders hidden behind closed doors. Elders are unprotected, caregivers are exhausted, and both struggle under the weight of this diagnosis and its impact,” notes Crowder.

According to International Association for Indigenous Aging President and Board Chairman William F. Benson, “We recognize the exceptional challenges facing Indigenous elder populations in the U.S. and worldwide. Many of them must cope with the lack or absence of elder services, organizations that advocate for them, or the disinterest/neglect of their government’s agencies. Sadly, in far too many places around the world, Indigenous elders and their families are confronted with many horrors like war and other conflicts, starvation, and the unrelenting effects of climate change.”

We believe that by working together, we can tackle the horror of elder abuse. This begins by acknowledging it, particularly within family and community structures. “Building awareness of the devastating impact of abuse is an important first step. We must also place a priority on resources and funding to prevent and address elder abuse,” Benson emphasizes.

“As we continue to work for the well-being of AIAN elders, we remain mindful of the struggles faced by elders of other nations and geographies. Our struggle for better elder care—both here in the U.S. and abroad—closely aligns with international efforts to recognize and prevent elder abuse worldwide,” says Dave Baldridge, International Association for Indigenous Aging Executive Director.

On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2022, the International Association for Indigenous Aging continues its call for greater recognition and resources to prevent and address elder abuse against American Indian, Alaska Native, and other Indigenous elders around the globe.

Take one action today to support World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2021

About the International Association for Indigenous Aging

The International Association for Indigenous Aging (IA2) is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of American Indians, Alaska Natives, and other Native people as they move through the aging spectrum.

Our work helps people and programs figure out how to competently and effectively engage and serve Native communities. We attempt to advance both knowledge and practice and promote engagement at all levels– local, tribal, regional, and national.

Fundamentally, our work acknowledges the history, rights, cultures, and values of indigenous people throughout their lifespans, recognition of tribal sovereignty, and centering the work of Native communities in meaningful partnerships.  

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