Elder abuse is a growing problem in our world, as people live longer and require help—often from family, friends, neighbors, or caretakers— to remain living independently. As we age, changes in health or financial status or the loss of a spouse or caretaker—to name just a few— can cause family dynamics to shift in ways we don’t always anticipate. Increasingly, grown children are helping to care for ill or aging parents—sometimes from great distances away—and often while juggling the demands of their own children and careers. It’s easy to see how—even in families where good communication exists—power and control can easily become unbalanced. There aren’t any easy answers to the problem of elder abuse, but one of the best ways to stop it is to raise awareness about the problem, help people recognize the warning signs, and talk about ways to develop and maintain healthy relationships as we age.

The Elder Justice Network, a multidisciplinary coalition sponsored by Greater Lynn Senior Services and co-facilitated by the Essex District Attorney’s Office, is made up of people from a variety of backgrounds, age groups, and professions, all with a common interest: ensuring that seniors in our communities are living in safety and being treated with dignity and respect. Their mission is to raise awareness about this growing, highly under-reported problem by speaking to as many people and groups as possible—from local senior centers and libraries to faith communities and garden clubs—to name just a few. Elder abuse is a complex problem, but breaking the silence about it is probably the best way to make a difference and help prevent it.

 The group, which recently celebrated its second anniversary, has developed some innovative tools—including an original play entitled “Breaking the Silence:  Voices of Hope,”—to raise awareness about this growing social problem.  The play, which is acted out by senior citizens from their own community, has been performed in Beverly, Peabody and Lynnfield.

In addition to the play, the group, which meets monthly, has developed a series of posters about elder abuse that are available to anyone or any community organization that would like them. 

The Elder Justice Network also regularly makes educational presentations to many different audiences—from professionals, to senior centers and residences, to community groups.” 

For information about joining the Elder Justice Network of the Greater North Shore, for posters, or to request a presentation to your organization or community group, contact Elizabeth Cochran at GLSS at 781-586-8511.