Wednesday, June 1, 2016



Written by: Mark and Carol Fairall – Elder Justice Advocates
June 01, 2016

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is June 15th and this is its tenth year in existence. The United Nations established this awareness day to promote the better understanding of the abuse and neglect of the elderly. It is estimated that 10% of elderly Americans (six million) are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation every year. Sadly, less than four percent of these crimes are ever reported. The Administration for Community Living and the National Center on Elder Abuse encourages the public to increase elder abuse prevention education in order to fight ageism, elder isolationism, elder apathy across the nation.  

Elder Abuse is the intentional or neglectful acts that leads to or may lead to harming a vulnerable adult.  Elder abuse is the neglected stepchild of domestic violence and child abuse in the triangle of human violence. There are three types of elder abuse, which are: Neglect, Physical or Emotional Abuse, and Financial Exploitation.  An elder abuse victim is three times more likely to die than non-abused seniors. One senior is abused every five seconds in America.

Senior Fraud is the deception of the elderly with the intent to defraud, such as false advertising. Senior Financial Exploitation is the illegal use of the vulnerable adult’s resources for another person’s gain or profit.  Senior financial losses are estimated by TrueLink Financial in 2015 to be $36.48 billion every year. It is estimated that seven percent of the elderly experience money losses due to scams with average financial loss of $52,300.  Most of the victims are between 80 to 90 years old and women are twice as likely to be victims of scams. The elderly financial losses result in: the skipping medical care, going without meals, and depression.  Over 90% of senior financial losses are caused by family members stealing from them.

The top financial scams against seniors are:
1.   Health Care / Medicare / Health Insurance Fraud,
2.   Counterfeit prescription drugs,
3.   Funeral & cemetery scams,
4.   Fraudulent anti-aging products,
5.   Telemarketing,
6.   Internet fraud,
7.   Investment Schemes,
8.   Homeowner / Reverse Mortgage Scams,
9.   Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams, and
10. The Grandparent Scam.

Useful Tips to Prevent being scammed:
1.  Stay informed on what scams are going on.
2.  Don’t live in isolation but share information with friends and family.
3.  Have all background checks on all in-home caregivers.
4.  Properly research senior living facilities for complaints and inspection reports.
5.  Keep an inventory and pictures of all jewelry plus lock them up in a secured container.
6.  Use good financial practices, such as: securing your checkbook, keep limited cash at home, and use good financial planners.
7.  Use a shredder to shred your mail and important documents.
8.  Never allow mail to sit in an unsecured mail box.
9.  Obtain a Credit Report twice a year and check for identity theft.
10. Have caller ID on your phone and don’t answer it unless you know who is calling.
11. Be careful on the Internet and only buy on secured sites.
12. Have a duplicate bank statement sent to a trusted family member.
13. Choose a handyman wisely that is referred from a reputable source.
14. Always be on guard at your front door and possibly have a dog for protection.
15. Don’t be a silent-victim but report any elder abuse or fraud to the authorities.

In 2010, the Federal Government passed the $777 million Elder Justice Act. So far only $13 million has been used to fight elder abuse.  Elder Rights are not recognized as a constitutionally protected class. Once this is passed elder abuse and fraud could be prosecuted with increased vigor and with harsher penalties as “Hate Crimes” against one class of Americans. More needs be done by the Federal Government to better protect the Rights of the Elderly.

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