The collective strain on the economy has had impact on the country's golden guys and girls. An estimated 80,000 adults sixty years old and older are victims of elder abuse each year, leading to an annual loss of an astounding $2.6 billion. And that was before the economy went south.
The elderly who have lived and worked their years before us, who have raised families and donated to charities, who have taught at universities and founded companies deserve our vigilance from abuse and mistreatment. When they are targeted in financial ploys or health care schemes they often feel alone and even embarrassed for misplacing their trust.
Below are a few simple ways to protect your loved ones from elder abuse and what to do if you suspect it.
1.Guard against fishy schemes.If the senior is being approached to invest in start-up companies or unregistered securities, be wary of financial elder abuse. You can check with your state securities regulator to research the validity of the securities and may want to drop a line in with the Better Businesses Bureau to do a little back-check on a new company.
2.No blind signatures.Counsel the senior to avoid signing blank documents. Senior Citizen Centers often have excellent resources for seniors to become better informed about forms, laws, and paperwork that they may need to be aware of. Check local senior centers to find out if free elder law clinics are held there to assist the elderly with managing their affairs. Elder abuse law is a growing issue, such that many law schools also host elder law clinics in which law students work directly with seniors to investigate and resolve certain straightforward issues and refer seniors to practicing attorneys for more complex issues.
3.Be aware of unexplained injuries or changes in behavior.The senior may feel shy or embarrassed to share physical or mental mistreatment or neglect, so be proactive in sensing if something is amiss. If you feel that something is not right, you can make an initial call to the Elder Abuse Hotline to help determine what next steps should be taken and what local agencies or services can be contacted.