Signs of Elder Abuse

Senior – Hello?

Caller – Hello, is this Mrs. Johnson?

Senior – Yes, speaking.

Caller – Mrs. Johnson, my name is Fred Moore. I am calling today to let you know that you have been selected to receive a free gift from our company. In order for you to receive this gift, all you have to pay is a shipping and handling fee in the amount of $49.95.

Elder abuse can be physical, mental, sexual and financial.   The above scenario is an example of financial abuse that occurs frequently in our population and is especially directed towards our elderly community.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA, 2013), this type of scam is one of the top 10 current scams against the elderly.  Scammers are constantly creating new ways of obtaining money by taking advantage of people.  Even though these crimes may be punishable by law, only one out of every 25 cases will ever be reported and out of those reported cases, only a small percentage will eventually be verified as a crime.

The good news is that you can be a light at the end of the dark tunnel that is associated with abuse and neglect.  The best way to protect elders from abuse or neglect, of any kind, is to be highly aware and vigilant. Increased media coverage about elderly abuse has helped in making the public more knowledgeable and engaged with the issue.  When the community at large knows the problem and the risk factors, they have more power to protect against it.  Education is the first line of defense.

Another way of preventing elder abuse is to involve everybody, especially seniors, in social groups.  Abuse is more easily recognized in a social circle and is more likely to be addressed, whereas, isolation not only increases the probability of abuse, but is often an indicator of the abuse itself.  If no one sees it (or signs of it) it won’t be addressed.

What else can you do to help prevent or report suspected abuse?  Do not let your fear of getting into someone else’s business stop you from reporting. You could be saving somebody’s finances or even their life!   Any professional who is involved in the elder’s life is required to report any suspected abuse or neglect of a person. If you do not feel comfortable reporting for yourself, you can turn to one of these individuals for help.

To report suspected abuse or neglect please contact one of the following agencies:

  1. Alaska Office of Elder Fraud and Assistance

doa.alaska.gov/opa/oefa/ 907-334-5989

  1. State of Alaska Adult Protective Services

www.hss.state.ak.us/dsds/aps.htm  907-269-3666

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