Elder Abuse & Exploitation
Elder abuse is an important subject and rapid problem in society today. 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have been a victim of some type of elder abuse. Abuse is defined as the infliction upon an adult by self or others of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or cruel punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish. There are multiple types of abuse and exploitation done unto elders, but the focus on the piece will be that of financial exploitation.
Financial exploitation is defined as unauthorized use of an elderly person’s fund or property either by caregiver or an outside scam artist. A couple of the more common scams to keep an eye out for include: fake charities, fake IRS & government agency scams, and promotions that involve “prizes” that need to be collected. Education about these types of scams can go a long way. Another common form of exploitation is that by the caregiver. Stealing of cash, income checks, or household goods, misuse of senior’s personal checks, check cards, and bank accounts, and forging of signatures are all common forms of exploitation by caregivers. There is a perception with many of those that care for the elderly that it is burdensome and without reward, a common motive of elder abuse. It is also shown that lack of support from other potential caregivers, depression, and stress are leading risk factors of abuse. With regards to the seniors, the servility of the elder’s illness, social isolation, and a history of domestic violence are all important risk factors. These factors can be crucial to better understanding potential threats before they happen. Elders that incur various forms of abuse are at a substantially higher risk of death than those without. Signs of abuse or exploitation include dehydration, malnutrition, poor hygiene, unexplained or sudden transfer of assets, and previously uninvolved relatives showing interest in elder’s possessions and law.
Unfortunately elder abuse is a major problem today. That being said, education and better understanding the warning signs can better help prevent these problems from hitting too close to home.