Webinar presenters Alyssa Neumann and Julie Schoen answered a number of your questions after their presentation, How to Talk about Elder Abuse. Here are just a few of their responses.
Audience Question: Leonard has been interested in creating an elder abuse court in Minnesota. Can you suggest some resources for doing that?
Julie Schoen: Leonard please do contact us and when you contact the NCEA email (email@example.com). You can just ask Aly or me and we will respond. Yes, there’s a lot of work going on. I’m going to refer you to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) website the Elder Justice Initiative (https://www.justice.gov/elderjustice/about-eji). Amazing materials there. Their work on elder courts is just really starting to take off. We’re involved in some work with the judiciary right now. In fact, we just received a grant from the DOJ about standardizing capacity assessment. You are right at the cutting edge of what will be going on. There’s a lot of work to be done, but please do reach out after. In the meantime, go on to the DOJ website, Elder Justice Initiative.
Audience Question: Do you have any specific recommendations or statements that can help overcome non-belief about elder sexual abuse?
Julie Schoen: I think that when Aly and I saw the article that came out on CNN about probably three years ago now. That really was the tip of the iceberg on what’s happening in nursing homes with sexual abuse. I think that it is when you want to use a reframed approach. It is very difficult because it is such a sensitive subject and it is so egregious.
Alyssa Neumann: Yes. I think our problem with this is that we don’t use enough examples of it too. It’s difficult for the public to even understand because it is something that we shy away from ourselves. Which is why it was great that it is in the swamp. I think when we use an example of a scenario, for example, what Julie mentioned about the scenario in nursing homes and that CNN article….when you use an example say this happened, but it was because there was a lack of training, there was also some social isolation that was going on. I would ask you to please highlight a scenario, but when you highlight that scenario, focus on the systemic causes behind sexual abuse and then you talk about solutions. I think the first thing is just to use more examples and explain why and how sexual abuse occurs when it comes to older adults. It’s one of our ways to really tackle an issue that doesn’t compute or makes people uncomfortable.
Julie Schoen: We do a lot of law enforcement training and we say when sexual abuse of an older adult is occurring, you treat it like any other rape case or any other sexual abuse case. One thing that we stress is to ask the individual and then listen to them. Too often people take the word of the caregiver, the person in charge they don’t talk to the individual, they break them off. They don’t look them in the eye. If they’re non-verbal and cannot communicate, you can sense anxiety amongst them, you can sense an apprehension. With our EAGLE guide (eagle.usc.edu), we’re trying to teach them to get over some of those ageist barriers and to see the individual. We have a lot of work to do in this area, we worked with Consumer Voice who are phenomenal. You use some of their information and NCALL, the National Clearinghouse for Abuse in Later Life (https://www.ncall.us/) has some excellent videos (https://www.liftingupvoices.net). One that will stay with you I believe is from someone named Mary and it talks about sexual abuse. I know they are redoing some of their videos also. In our TREA website, the trea.usc.edu site, if you put in sexual abuse, it will bring up those videos as well.
Alyssa Neumann: The most important thing is to highlight the cases happening. I think even when we highlight them in our training perhaps consider putting sexual abuse at the top of our list of types with neglect as well. That’s why we asked that question about sexual abuse in today’s webinar because it is one of the topics that people don’t often talk about. Consider prioritizing it more. Reframing is about knowing what to avoid and knowing what to advance and we know that neglect and sexual abuse were those concepts that were hard for the public to understand so we’re going to highlight those. Thank you, Julie. Thank you for that question.
Audience Question: Is elder abuse a big issue outside of the United States?
Julie Schoen: Oh my goodness. Yes. In fact today I’m calling Australia. They have quite the campaign going on that we are in admiration of and we want to see people collaborate with. China has quite a bit happening because of some cultural changes as their population ages. India is another country having issues in the area of elder abuse. Any disrespect to an elder is considered abusive and takes the definition to a whole other level. Yes, this is global. That’s why we have a world elder abuse awareness day. This is a global issue
Alyssa Neumann: I know in our technical assistance line, I’ve gotten contacts from Canada as well.
Julie Schoen: Canada has a great project too, great program there (See Elder Abuse Ontario – http://www.elderabuseontario.com/). They definitely excel in some areas.
Audience Question: Is there an EAGLE program in Canada?
Julie Schoen: An EAGLE program? Not yet. We’ll certainly be sharing it with them because we have a consumer education group that includes Elder Abuse Ontario. We’re working together. I think we would encourage you go on our EAGLE site here in Canada. Please take it. Spread the word.
Audience Question: Is the NCEA able to work with individual agencies to review and provide feedback on agency materials with regard to the language and images that they are using?
Alyssa Neumann: Absolutely. That’s something that we helped United States Postal Inspection Services with. We’re happy to do that again. Please contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Audience Question: Can you share how some other agencies have rebranded and implemented the eagle program locally so that they can move the program forward with law enforcement in their community?
Julie Schoen: Usually, we put in a lot more examples with the before and afters, but we had to get in a little bit of everything today. Wise and Healthy Aging is local and they had a resource manual that was kind of dire and helpless looking and they reframed it with this very dynamic photo of an older gentleman and young boy superhero. It just catches your eye. It’s very vibrant. We have a lot more examples on our website.
Alyssa Neumann: Aaron, I think you said she was asking about EAGLE right? I believe the question was how rebranding has worked for EAGLE with law enforcement.
Julie Schoen: Some things we have left the same for law enforcement. A lot of times we go into elder mistreatment over elder abuse and we have to say elder abuse to communicate better with law enforcement and there are some graphic images that EAGLE has that brings home with what law enforcement encounters. There are some things that you will all learn. Reframing works for a lot of things and in some areas you have to consider the audience and just have to be just the facts kind of thing. The majority of it has been encouraging to officers to understand they are a part of this wonderful solution and that their communities depend on them to prevent elder abuse, and that has resonated with them so much.
Audience Question: When presenting about elder abuse, do you have suggestions on how to make it specific to a diverse community based on race, gender or taking culture into consideration?
Alyssa Neumann: The NCEA has research briefs that would be very helpful when presenting to various specific ethnic groups or audiences. That’s all on our ncea.acl.gov website. We have research briefs on elder abuse research with LGBT audiences, African-Americans, among Asian-Americans or Pacific Islander communities. That’s the first step I think before presenting to a specific group. It is really understanding elder abuse for a specific community before preparing your slide set for the presentation. We know for example, in API communities elder abuse is not something they are talking about. There is a lot of shame involved. There is a lot of filial piety as well. Knowing those concepts and how culture plays a role in a lack of reporting and talking about elder abuse I think will help inform that slide set. I would also recommend reaching out to specific national agencies that work with specific communities.
Julie Schoen: National Asian Pacific Council on Aging(NAPCA) and SAGE who serves older LGBTQ communities (https://www.sageusa.org/). They both have lots of good resources. Then we have lots of NCEA materials and we do have some things translated also.
Alyssa Neumann: I would really recommend knowing the audience beforehand and checking those national agencies. We at the NCEA, we try to have a lot of generalized information but those agencies can offer you a lot more specific communications tips and resources than we can.
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