Elder Abuse

Angela Muki - Wednesday, July 17, 2013 | Comments (0)

“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.”

The National Center on Elder Abuse defines seven different types of elder abuse: physical abuse; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; financial exploitation; neglect; abandonment; and self-neglect.  The forensic marker for one form of elder abuse can often be a sign for another.  These markers are often difficult to pinpoint.  For instance, self-neglect is believed to be a risk factor for other types of elder abuse.

While each senior differs between physical and mental fitness and his or her specific care needs, one common factor always exists.  Money!  Financial fraud is the fastest growing form of senior exploitation.  Billions in financial losses are suffered annually.  Truth-be-told, victims and material losses are understated because estimates suggest that only 1 in 25 cases are actually reported.

Home ownership is highest among those aged 65 and older:  approximately 80.5 percent.  The vast majority has considerable equity in their home or own it free and clear.  Seniors hold 70 percent of the U.S. net worth, control nearly $15 trillion in assets, and have the highest percentage of discretionary income.

Simply stated, the U.S. now consists of a huge home owning and asset-holding consumer demographic for targeted products and services. At home and often alone, the older adult receives the needed attention from caregivers with criminal backgrounds, telemarketers, e-commerce, funeral and dietary supplement industries, power of attorney and guardianship abusers, living trust scams, and sub-prime loans.  Even medical attention is sometimes provided with only the intent of Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

Older adults with little money are not exempt from targeted abuse and exploitation.  Persons with ulterior motives might also be a family member or a caregiver.  A new relation, a home repair contractor, even a neighbor has been known to swindle the unknowing senior.  It could be anyone with selfish reasons to take money or reap a benefit.

Your gerontologist can help assess and report the situation and provide you the education and resources you need to mitigate or prevent elder abuse.

A National Public Radio (NPR) panel discusses the problem of elder abuse and how to address it in NPR’s Tell Me More weekly parenting conversation.  Read the transcript

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