World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2024

By Ashley Barnes, M.S.

What is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day?

Each year on June 15th, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is observed to spread awareness of elder abuse and neglect with efforts to prevent it. A major goal of World Elder Abuse Day is to provide education pertaining to the social, cultural, demographic, and economic situations that impact elder abuse and neglect. 

Elder abuse.

An elder is anyone age 65 or older and elder abuse describes any intentional act or failure to act that causes a risk of harm to an older adult (CDC, 2024). A sad truth about elder abuse and neglect is that it often occurs at the hands of a caregiver or person the elder trusts. Elder abuse is a serious problem in the United States with about 1 in 10 older adults over the age of 60 having experienced some form of it (CDC, 2024). 

What are the types of abuse?

It is important that we understand what constitutes abuse and how certain forms are unique to elders.

Elder abuse includes financial abuse, physical abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.

  • Financial abuse is the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of money, benefits, property, or assets for the benefit of someone other than the older adult.
  • Physical abuse is illness, injury, functional impairment, or death resulting from the intentional use of physical force. Examples include hitting, kicking, or pushing.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse refers to verbal or nonverbal behaviors that inflict anguish, fear, or distress. Examples include humiliation, threats, or harassment.
  • Sexual abuse is forced or unwanted sexual interaction. Examples include unwanted sexual contact or penetration or non-contact acts such as sexual harassment.
  • Neglect is the failure to meet an older adult’s basic needs. These needs include food, water, shelter, clothing, hygiene, and essential medical care.

Some signs and symptoms of elder abuse include injuries such as bruises, cuts, or broken bones, poor hygiene, weight loss or malnourishment, symptoms of anxiety, depression, or confusion, withdrawal from loved ones, and unexplained transactions or loss of money (Nursing Home Abuse Center, 2024).

Readers may be experiencing a visceral reaction to what was just described, wondering how anyone could inflict this kind of neglect and abuse on someone – us too. Education on how to recognize abuse and neglect is essential in the eradication and prevention of it. 

What we can do to help.

If you suspect that elder abuse or neglect is taking place, you can call Adult Protective Services (APS) and make a report; if APS recognizes the report as being abuse or neglect, they will often take action by sending a social worker to assess the situation and provide help to the older adult through connection to essential, safe resources. Further, law enforcement will get involved to prosecute any individual responsible for inflicting the abuse. 

The following are more ways to prevent elder abuse:

  • Provide support to older adults and take time to understand their challenges.
  • Educate yourself and others about how to recognize and report abuse.
  • Learn the ways in which the signs of abuse differ from the normal aging process.
  • Encourage or assist persons (caregivers or older adults) who have problems with drugs or alcohol in getting help.
  • Encourage overburdened caregivers to seek support (ex: counseling, local relief care groups).
  • Check-in on older adults who may have few friends and family members.

What mental health professionals can do to help.

Though anyone can make an elder abuse report, mental health professionals like psychiatrists and psychotherapists are mandated reporters, which means that if any form of elder abuse or neglect is reported to them, they are required by law to file a report to the APS. All mental health professionals are required to have gone through extensive training, including education on how to recognize and assist someone who is surviving abuse. 

Geriatric psychiatrists are those who specialize in treating individuals over the age of 65 and are especially keen to recognize the signs of abuse and neglect. Further, geriatric psychiatrists are well-educated and experienced in treating elders’ mental health challenges with attentiveness and sensitivity. Geriatric psychiatrists can work collaboratively with patients to develop a treatment plan that will increase the quality of elders’ lives. 

Let us support you.

Here at the  Mental Health Center we have skilled geriatric psychiatrists ready to support you and your loved ones.

  • Jooyeon Lee, MD
    • Dr. Lee is a psychiatrist specializing in general adult and geriatric psychiatry. She has worked with patients from diverse backgrounds in various settings including academic institutions, city/county hospitals, and the Veterans Administration Hospital.
    • She is board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and board-certified in Geriatric Psychiatry. Dr. Lee was selected for the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry Honors Scholars Program for Residents in 2017. Her work has been published in journals including Experimental Gerontology, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, and the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.
  • Lydia Ann, MD
    • Dr. Lydia Ann is a psychiatrist specializing in general adult psychiatry and a current geriatric psychiatry fellow. She has extensive experience treating patients of various backgrounds in multiple settings, including outpatient, inpatient, partial hospitalization, crisis residential program, emergency department, and corrections.
    • Due to this broad experience, she emphasizes the importance of care coordination and integration of one’s entire support system to bring excellent, individualized care to each patient. Dr. Ann is completing further specialized training in geriatric psychiatry fellowship at UCLA.
  • Miriam Winthrop, MD
    • Dr. Miriam Winthrop is a board-certified psychiatrist specializing in adult and geriatric psychiatry. She believes in taking a holistic approach to addressing mental health. In addition to her expertise in the use of medications, she has extensive training in multiple types of psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral and insight-oriented modalities. Dr. Winthrop has extensive experience working with a wide range of issues, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, dementia-related concerns, and end-of-life issues.
    • She received her medical degree from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. She completed her residency in adult psychiatry at LAC+USC Medical Center. She completed her fellowship in geriatric psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She was selected as an Honors Scholar in the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry and received the award for excellence in psychotherapy from the Austen Riggs foundation.
  • Sarah Mourra, MD
    • Dr. Sarah Mourra completed her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. She then pursued her Medical Doctorate degree at the University of California, Irvine. She obtained residency training at Yale University where she served as Chief Resident.
    • She completed fellowship training in Geriatric Psychiatry at UCLA, where she also received training in ECT and was selected as a Bureau of Health Professions Fellow in geriatric psychiatry. She is currently a Health Sciences Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Mourra has an interest in integrating psychotherapy and medication to assist patients in their recovery, and is trained in psychotherapy as well as pharmacologic management.

Online Resources:

  • National Center on Elder Abuse – “provides the latest information regarding research, training, best practices, news and resources on elder abuse, neglect and exploitation to professionals and the public.”
  • Adult Protective Services – to report elder abuse, call 1-833-401-0832 and when prompted, enter your 5-digit zip code to be connected to the Adult Protective Services in your county, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2024). About abuse of older persons|CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved May 31, 2024, from 

Nursing Home Abuse Center. (2024). Signs of elder abuse – know warning signs of elderly abuse. Nursing Home Abuse Center. Retrieved May 31, 2024, from