Showing posts with label elder abuse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label elder abuse. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fighting Elder Abuse Around the World

When I opened the weekly paper for my retirement village this morning, I was interested to see an article about World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  Until I read the article, I didn't know there was a special day set aside to bring this sad reality to our attention.  Unfortunately, there is no question that it is necessary.  The day has been recognized since June 15, 2006 and is intended to help social workers, police, adult protective service workers, nursing home staff, family members and others who come in contact with the elderly to be better educated and able to recognize the signs of elder abuse.  The program was launched by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.  Obviously, this is a problem around the world, as Japan recently passed a law allowing elderly parents to sue their adult children if the children neglect or fail to visit them.

Statistics on Elder Abuse in the US

According to representatives from the Ageless Alliance of Orange County, California, one in ten senior citizens is abused.  This amounts to approximately five million people nationwide.  Studies by the National Center on Elder Abuse have found that between 7.6% and 10% of seniors who were part of a study were willing to admit that they had experienced abuse in the prior year.  Sadly, there are indications that many seniors are reluctant to report it, although Adult Protective Services does believe there is a trend towards better reporting.

Financial abuse alone was reported in one study by 41 out of 1000 seniors who were surveyed.

The problem may even be much more serious than these numbers indicate, since the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study discovered that for every one abused elderly person who comes to the attention of authorities, approximately twenty-four cases go unreported.

This seemed almost impossible for me to believe until I read about the different ways that seniors can be mistreated, often by the people they most trust.

Types of Elder Abuse

Seniors can be abused in a number of ways. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse website, it appears that more elderly women are abused than men and that the older a person is, the more likely that person is to be abused.  In approximately 90% of cases, family members, such as adult children or spouses, are most likely to be the abusers.  Researchers have also discovered that people with dementia are far more likely to be victims of elder abuse than those without.  Here are some common types of elder abuse:

Neglect:  This includes incidents in which either a paid caregiver or a member of the family fails to meet an elderly person's basic needs or protect them from harm.  This can happen whether the person is living in their own home or in a nursing home.  In fact, in one study done in the year 2000, 95% of nursing home residents said that either they had personally been neglected or they had seen another resident neglected.  Since so many of us may eventually need to spend our last few months or years in a skilled nursing facility, I found this statistic particularly alarming.

Emotional Abuse:  Emotional abuse can include berating, threatening or demeaning an elderly person.  Emotional abuse may cause significant psychological distress and lower self-esteem.

Physical Abuse:  Physical violence against the elderly can increase other health problems and bring on depression or anxiety.  The victims also have a 300% higher risk of death when they are compared to people who have not been physically abused.

Financial Abuse:  Many seniors are especially reluctant to let their family members know when they have been taken advantage of financially, because they don't want to appear to be incapable of handling their own money.  They are often afraid they will lose their financial and personal freedom if their children learn what happened to them.  As a result, they may be the victim of a scam and never say anything to anyone.  As I have reported before in this blog, I have known two different intelligent, well-educated people who were victimized by scammers pretending to be relatives and asking that money be wired to them.  Both of my friends were horrified that they could be so gullible.

Sexual Abuse: Believe it or not, even bed-ridden elderly women have been raped.  To make matters worse, they are often not believed when they report it, which allows the perpetrator freedom to continue to abuse that person or another elderly person in their care.

Examples of Elder Abuse

There are undoubtedly millions of examples of Elder Abuse that have occurred in this country.  One case which was reported in my local newspaper occurred when an 85 year old woman allowed her only son to come stay with her.  He was actively using drugs and alcohol, his wife had left him and he had lost his job.

Before long, her son was growing marijuana on the patio of her retirement condo and threatening that he would report her for being incompetent to handle her own finances so that he could be appointed her conservator.  She was terrified of her son and his threats, although she eventually turned to social services for help.

In another case, our local newspaper reported on the case of a 76 year old man who remarried.  Within four years, his wife had sold everything of value that he owned and left him with $100,000 in credit card debt.   This may not be an unusual situation, since the father of a friend of mine had a similar experience when he remarried late in life.  My friend eventually had to assist her father in filing for both divorce and bankruptcy.

As you can see, elder abuse is something we all need to know about.  It can happen in anyone's family.


National Center on Elder Abuse website:

You may also want to read:  The Ultimate Internet Safety Guide for Seniors

Another good option is:  "Elder Abuse Prevention Resource Guide"
"Village Recognizes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day" Laguna Woods Globe, Thursday, July 11, 2013.

If you are interested in information on retirement planning for yourself or your parents, or want to learn about Medicare, Social Security, financial planning, where to retire and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.  Each ones contains an introduction and links to a number of articles on that topic.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Crimes Against the Elderly

Many Baby Boomers are moving into retirement communities while they still have living parents who also live in a retirement community or an assisted living facility.  Unfortunately, with so many people over the age of 55 living in these neighborhoods, they have begun to attract the attention of criminals who are looking for easy victims.  As a result, Baby Boomers not only have to worry about keeping themselves safe from these predators, but many of us also have to worry about our parents, who can often be more trusting and less suspicious than their Baby Boomer children.

Crime Statistics Involving Elderly

According to the Project America website, for every 1000 people age 65 and over, here are the annual crime statistics:

Simple assault: 1.5
Personal theft:    .8
Robbery:           .6
Aggravated assault:  .3
Rape or sexual assault: .1

Overall, about 2.5 out of every 1000 people age 65 and over will be the victim of a crime every year.  Obviously, the longer you live, the greater your chances of being victimized.

Financial Crimes Against the Elderly

According to the same Project America article, the Department of Justice is especially concerned about financial crimes against the elderly.  In 1998, about one-third of the elder abuse cases that were discovered included financial exploitation, and the statistics have remained similar since that time.  This can include relatives that steal money from senior citizens, financial advisers who are dishonest, and strangers who trick retirees into paying bills they do not owe or donate to charities that do not exist.

Telemarketing Fraud Against the Elderly 

In addition, the elderly have reported about $40 billion in losses as a result of telemarketing fraud, and this problem is growing yearly.

On my Lies and Liers blog, I wrote a post about a phone call I received.  The post is titled "Lies and Liars: Computer Virus Scams," and the incident so infuriated my husband that he reported it to the Federal Internet Crime Complaint Center at  This government agency shares this information with other law enforcement agencies, both local and national.  I highly recommend that anyone who experiences a similar phone call report it to the Federal Internet Crime Complaint Center.  While you are unlikely to get reimbursed for any losses, this site is the first step in trying to end these types of crimes.

These phone calls take many forms.  In the case I wrote about, a stranger called and tried to trick me into letting him take control of my computer so he could show me that I had a "computer virus" on it.  When people have fallen for this scam in the past, the caller has loaded a virus onto their computer and then sold the victims anti-virus software.

Other Hoaxes Directed at Senior Citizens

One of the disadvantages of living in a retirement community is that we receive so many fraudulent calls.  The issue has become serious enough that we have begun screening most of the phone calls we receive at our home.  If we do not recognize a name or phone number for an incoming call, we let our answering machine pick up the call.  Then we decide if we want to return it.

Many seniors continue to be tricked into giving strangers their Social Security number and other identifying information because they are being told it is necessary in order to receive government assistance to pay a portion of their utility bills or other obligations.  This is another complete fraud, often targeting the elderly.

Crimes that Pull At Your Heart Strings

Some of the worst crimes are those that rely on your charitable nature or desire to help others.  One of the most horrifying one is "The Crying Teenager Hoax."  In this hoax, a crying teen calls, pretending to be your grandchild or other relative.  They ask you to wire them money in another state because they have been in a car accident or arrested.  Thousands of seniors have sent wire transfers to strangers, believing they were helping a young relative.  Sometimes it is days before they realize they have been cheated.

Other Types of Crimes Against the Elderly

It is a shame that we need to remain constantly vigilant.  However, as a resident of an over-55 community, I realize that I have received more fraudulent phone calls since I moved here than at any other place I have ever lived.  In addition, a member of our Homeowner's Association Board of Directors told me this morning that many of the elderly in our community have been robbed by their home healthcare workers and other people who are supposed to be "helping" them.  This is especially shocking, because we live in a community that is considered one of the safest in California!

No matter how old we live to be, or how safe we deem our community, we are never too old to be the victim of a crime.  We can never let our guard down ... for ourselves, our parents, our friends or our neighbors.

If you are interested in learning more about retirement planning, financial issues, where to retire, medical concerns and changing family relationships, use the tabs or pull-down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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