Did you know that June 15 is World Elder Abuse Day? When it comes to elder abuse in the United States, the statistics are staggering. In any given year, predators successfully target approximately 5 million seniors here. In addition to experiencing various types of abuse, their victims are financially exploited at tremendous cost. One estimate puts the total economic loss stemming from the financial exploitation of older adults at roughly $2.6 billion. Just as alarming, few of these incidents are ever reported.
In 2006, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations initiated a campaign to address these issues. June has been designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Month, and June 15th has been designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, ever since.
That makes this the perfect time for everyone, including the adult children of Older Americans, to learn all you can about elder abuse. After all, knowledge is power in the fight to end it.
Elder abuse comes in many forms. Sadly, Older Americans often experience:
- Physical abuse
- Mental /emotional/verbal abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Neglect by caregivers
Financial exploitation of seniors is also far too common. Strangers, friends, relatives, and caregivers who have access to an older adult’s finances often succumb to temptation. In many cases, they steal or misuse the senior’s money. Scams targeting older adults are also common. Examples of financial exploitation seniors experience include:
- Identity theft
- Theft of money
- Charity scams
- Lottery scams
- Fake services scams
- Misuse of their credit cards, checking accounts and so forth
- Investment fraud
There are strategies that can be used to help prevent these kinds of elder abuse. Isolation and loneliness make Older Americans more susceptible to abuse and neglect. This is why experts recommend that their loved ones:
- Encourage aging parents to live with or near them
- Facilitate regular communication
- Help them find ways to stay socially engaged and active
- Help them find appropriate care
- Help them address any harmful habits that may contribute to self-neglect
- Allow them to maintain control over their finances as long as possible
- Teach them how to recognize scams
As soon as your loved one tells you about abuse or neglect, swift action can help prevent it from going on even longer than it has already. Be sensitive to your loved one as he or she expresses concerns over reporting the abuse. You can protect your loved one from further trauma by taking care to avoid confronting the abuser. Help them find support as they try to cope with what they have experienced.
Many national groups and organizations are devoted to assisting victims of elder abuse and their families. Often these groups have regional, state, and local chapters that you can learn about online. Our state also has resources dedicated to helping older Americans report and stop elder abuse.
We also offer legal services for victims of elder abuse and their families. If you need legal advice, support or representation, we may be able to help. Please feel free to contact our law office to learn more.