Taking Action Against Elder Mistreatment

Reframing Elder Abuse By Laura Mosqueda, Alyssa Neumann, and Eden Ruiz-Lopez

Effective project work to reframe communications and public perceptions about elder abuse boosts support for elder abuse awareness, prevention, and solutions.

W hy should we reframe aging and elder abuse? As the lead elder abuse information resource for the public and for professionals, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) often hosts resource tables at community health events to educate others on elder abuse and prevention strategies. We have noticed, however, that many people who approached our table at such events would turn away when we mentioned the word “abuse.” Or they would make dismissive com- ments like, “I don’t want to think about that,” “It only happens in nursing homes,” or “We need to take care of vulnerable old people.” These reactions and misunderstandings are common; elder abuse is not an easy subject to introduce to the public and many professional organizations dedicated to helping older adults struggle to communicate effectively about the issue. Such widespread misconceptions under- mine our nation’s ability to engage in meaning- ful discourse on developing adequate services and policies for older adults and elder abuse. The NCEA realized it needed a new approach

for introducing the idea of elder abuse to the public—an approach that didn’t cause a sense of shame, of hopelessness, or of being overwhelmed so as to be rendered ineffective. We learned that several national aging orga- nizations and funders in 2014 had united to change the way Americans think and talk about aging through an initiative called Reframing Many professional organizations in the aging sector struggle to communicate effectively about elder abuse. Aging ( It was this action that started our parallel project, Reframing Elder Abuse ( Both reframing projects contracted with a nonproft think tank called FrameWorks Insti- tute to understand public conceptions on aging and elder abuse; and to use those understandings

abstract Professional organizations in aging struggle to communicate effectively with the public about elder abuse. In 2017, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) partnered with the FrameWorks Institute in the Reframing Elder Abuse project, creating an evidence-based communication strategy that could elevate the issue with the public and boost support for systemic solutions to prevent and address elder abuse. In this article, NCEA staff describe why the strategy was needed, explain project progress, and state long-term goals. | key words : elder abuse, National Center on Elder Abuse, NCEA, reframing elder abuse, FrameWorks Institute, Archstone Foundation, Administration for Community Living, ACL

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Volume 44 . Number 1 | 17

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