Presently there are about 400,000 elders in Orange County, but the number of elders (age 65 and over) is predicted to double by 2050 and the number of people age 85 and over, the most vulnerable, will triple.
If you take those numbers for a single county in California, and multiply them across the nation, you’ll get a clear understanding of how our nation is aging and the number of vulnerable people susceptible to elder abuse in the coming years. With the growth of older adults, the risk will grow, reports Event-News Enterprise in the article “How to Recognize, Prevent and Address Elder Abuse.”
There are a number of types of elder abuse: physical, emotional, neglect and financial abuse. Overmedicating a resident of a care facility is one form of physical abuse. Self-neglect occurs due to physical or mental decline or from the senior’s inability to pay for their medications.
It’s estimated that 11% of all elder abuse cases in the United States occur in California. Financial elder abuse is the fastest growing form of elder abuse in the country.
Elder abuse is also the most unreported crime. There are a few reasons for this: the senior is embarrassed at having been taking advantage of. When the abuser is a family member, or a caregiver, the senior is often afraid to report the person for fear of being harmed. They are reluctant to report a family member. And they are reluctant to report a person they have come to depend upon for care. Who will take care of them?
The most common types of elder abuse are the romance scam, the grandparent/friend/family member facing an immediate emergency, imposter scams (Social Security or IRS scams), employment scams and sweepstakes/lottery/prizes scams.
To combat elder abuse, reporting all and any types of abuse is critical. Physical elder abuse must be reported to Adult Protective Services (APS) or the local police department. Reports to APS are kept confidential. Anyone who is a victim of financial scam or fraud should contact the local law enforcement, APS or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Think of it this way: you are not only defending yourself, but you may be protecting someone else from being scammed.
Sometimes people can get their money back, but it is difficult. The best way to prevent elder abuse is to be educated and forewarned about the scams, so as not to become a victim.
Most nursing care facilities or hospitals have an ombudsman or patient representative office. Contact the office—most offer the ability to remain anonymous.
Elder abuse is a terrible shame, when people take advantage of those who are least able to protect themselves. With strong public outreach and education programs, seniors who are aware of the scams and their own vulnerabilities will be better protected and able to defend themselves.
Reference: Event-News Enterprise May 29, 2019 “How to Recognize, Prevent and Address Elder Abuse.”