Adults over the age of 65 are in danger of being abused, neglected or exploited financially. According to public health experts, 5%-10% of the elderly are victims of abuse and mistreatment. But only 1 in 24 cases are ever identified. Some confusion arises when the person does not understand what is considered mistreatment.
A new digital tool called VOICES is one way to help educate our older adults concerning elder abuse.
In 2018, Yale researchers developed VOICES Virtual cOaching in making Informed Choices in Elder mistreatment Self-disclosure). This digital tool uses tablet devices to show videos to elderly adults. Working in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), various presentations and virtually guided tours work to help identify abusive situations.
VOICES aims to help reveal cases of abuse in which evidence is not otherwise apparent.
The goal of VOICES is three-pronged:
VOICES walks older adults through videos describing elder abuse. how situations tend to escalate, and how to find help when physical abuse, emotional abuse or neglect happens. It asks users to consider their own experiences and asks questions such as “Do you feel you have been mistreated in any way in the last 12 months?” If the user feels they have experienced abuse, it encourages them to speak up and seek help.
When in its planning stages, the researchers at Yale University loaded everything they wanted on the tool. They then asked older adults to test the product and offer feedback. The beta users gave insight regarding the fonts used, the font size, and the wording used. The younger generation wanted to connect with those over 65 and use the terminology they were familiar with.
The next stage is to roll out VOICES to Spanish-speaking adults. But this involves more than simple translation. The developers are also working to include the Hispanic lifestyle and situations in the videos. Hispanic elders are being asked to review the cultural adaptation and give feedback to ensure everyone is familiar with the situations found in the videos.
The Voices team is working hard to roll out this digital tool and have it available to all senior citizens. They want our elders to have their voices heard now and no longer live under abuse.
An experienced Illinois estate planning and elder law attorney can explain applicable laws and advise you on the best options to protect the interests of vulnerable senior citizens. Contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at 630-864-5835.
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