World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Commemorated June 15th every year, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is an opportunity to take action to protect older people by raising awareness about elder abuse, why it occurs, and what we can do to stop it.
What Is Elder Abuse? Elder abuse refers to intentional or negligent acts by a caregiver or trusted individual that causes harm to an older person. Elder abuse takes many forms, including
- Neglect or Isolation
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional or psychological abuse (including verbal abuse and threats)
- Financial abuse and exploitation
Identifying Financial Exploitation
Financial exploitation, also known as financial abuse, is when someone illegally or improperly uses your money or belongings for themselves. This can be done by someone you know, like a friend or relative, or a complete stranger. However, there are things you can do to help protect yourself.
RECOGNIZE COMMON WARNING SIGNS
Signs that may indicate you are being exploited include:
- Have you noticed withdrawals or credit card charges on your bills that you did not make?
- Did you find out someone made changes to a will, trust, mortgage, or deed without you knowing?
- Has someone threatened to place you in a nursing home if you do not give them control of your finances?
SOME TIPS TO AVOID POTENTIAL FINANCIAL ABUSE:
- Do not provide personal information (e.g. social security number, credit card) over the phone unless you placed the call and know with whom you are speaking.
- If you are offered a “prize”, “loan”, “investment”, etc. that sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true!
- Take your time. Consult with someone you trust before making a large purchase or investment.
- Don’t sign any documents that you don’t completely understand without first consulting an attorney or family member you trust.
- Tear up /shred credit receipts, bank statements, and financial records before disposing of them.
- If you hire someone for personal assistance services, complete a background check first.
- Get on the National Do Not Call Registry to reduce telemarketing calls. Call 888-382-1222
To learn more, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse website.
PLAN AHEAD TO PROTECT YOURSELF & YOUR LOVED ONES
Talk with family members, friends, and professionals that you trust.
- Have your income (e.g. retirement, Social Security, SSI, disability income) directly deposited into your checking account.
- If managing your daily finances becomes difficult, consider utilizing a daily money manager. Only allow someone you trust to manage your finances. Visit AARP at www.aarpmmp.org for further information on professional money management services.
- Get your estate plan in place. Talk with an attorney about helping you create the following as appropriate:
- a living will
- a revocable trust
- a durable power of attorney for healthcare and/or asset management. Name a person you trust to make healthcare and asset management decisions for you when you are incapable. Designating co-powers of attorney can ensure that no one agent can act unilaterally.
- If you have to go to a long-term care facility, learn about your options! Visit www.medicare.gov/quality-care-finder for more info on long term care facility quality
Keep in touch regularly with others, isolation can make you vulnerable to abuse. Consider doing the following:
- Build a network of family, friends, neighbors, and groups that you can interact with
- Keep active, stay busy! Get involved with your senior center or other groups
- Create a buddy system with other elders, call each other daily for reassurance and friendship and visit each other if possible
- Administration for Community Living – a subsidy of the U.S. Health & Human Services Department.
- Money Smart for Older Adults – a subsidy of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Classes, resources, and tools to help older adults, family caregivers, and others prevent, recognize and report financial exploitation.
- Office for Older Amercians Webinar Archive features webinars on financial issues impacting older adults.
- National Credit Union Association educating older adults and caregivers: Scams Targeting Seniors
- AARP covers financial abuse and exploitation extensively in many of their publications and online
If you see signs or suspect that someone is a victim of elder abuse please reach out to the Eldercare Locator abuse hotline: 1-800- 677-1116. If you or an elder needs immediate assistance, then please call 911.
More on this topic from Green Country
- Daily Money Management Programs for Seniors
- How to Shield your family from financial elder abuse