Ask Joan: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15
June 10, 2024

Q.  I live a few hours away from my great-aunt, so I don’t see her often. Lately, I have been concerned about her safety and wellbeing. The last time I saw her she had some bruises that she didn’t want to talk about. When I brought it up with the neighbor lady who looks in on her, I got the brush off. My great-aunt seemed upset when I told her, and she urged me to stop interfering. I want to help, but I am worried I might be wrong about what could be happening.

A. You are right to be concerned about your great-aunt. Elder abuse does happen and can be serious. If you or anyone else makes a report in good faith, it’s important to know you will not be held responsible if it proves the allegations are unfounded.

AgeSpan is a designated agency in the Merrimack Valley and North Shore for receiving and investigating reports of elder abuse and for providing protective services for older adults. Last year, our Protective Services team received over 5,000 reports of elder abuse, the highest volume in the state.

We know that older people are more likely to experience social isolation, which can increase the likelihood of abuse or neglect. So, in addition to Protective Services, we offer programs and services to keep people connected and reduce social isolation.

For example, we offer tablet computers with internet access and training to keep people connected to friends and family through our Digital Access program. Our Friendly Visitor volunteers provide weekly social visits to homebound adults, and Money Management volunteers help with bill paying, budgeting, and balancing checkbooks.

In light of June 15 being World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I encourage everyone to take steps to help protect older adults from abuse, exploitation, and neglect. In addition to reporting suspected abuse, here is how you can help:

  • Talk about it – to community leaders, family, friends, and neighbors. Educate yourself about the warning signs and advocate for elder abuse prevention and intervention programs.
  • Volunteer with local programs that help lonely adults and caregivers.
  • Report concerns or suspected abuse. In Massachusetts, call the Elder Abuse Hotline at 800-922-2275 anytime day or night or visit
  • Get involved with the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. Volunteers help resolve problems related to the health, safety, welfare, and rights of persons who live in long-term care facilities.

Are you caring for an older adult or need help finding healthy aging resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at You can also call 800-892-0890 or email

Joan Hatem-Roy is the chief executive officer of AgeSpan, which serves the following cities and towns: Amesbury, Andover, Billerica, Boxford, Chelmsford, Danvers, Dracut, Dunstable, Georgetown, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Marblehead, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, Peabody, Rowley, Salisbury, Salem, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, Westford, and West Newbury.

First published in the Eagle-Tribune.

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