How to Prevent Elder Abuse

elder abuse
How to Prevent Elder Abuse – Courtesy Carol Marak,

Elder abuse is a crime which does not discriminate race or gender, only the person’s age. Other nonselective factors include economic status, ethnicity, educational background and geographic location. To say it’s a growing problem understates it’s horrific reach.

Aging experts know the dilemma that elder abuse victims face; they live in silent desperation, they do not seek assistance because they believe their suffering will be ignored, and they fear retaliation from the abusers. And worse, the elders suffering from abuse remain silent to protect the offending family members from the legal consequences, or they are too embarrassed to admit that they have fallen victim to predators. It’s a very sad predicament.

Therefore, it takes courage and strength of a caring person to take action and stand by the victim.

To help older adults to prepare and prevent potential scams and fraud, the Aging Council members at offers tips and suggestions to mitigate the chances of elder abuse.

Hire an Expert

Elder abuse is rampant and growing. The enemy of abuse is isolation. While most family members of aging seniors are in denial, more than 45% of seniors in senior living communities say they have been abused. Hiring a senior care auditor to visit regularly to assess the senior, their environment, and the caregiver is an inexpensive way to prevent and detect abuse. Rhonda Harper,

You shouldn’t sign anything you don’t understand, pay your advisor or agent in cash, or pay to receive any prize. Check your bank statement carefully each month and monitor it for unsanctioned withdrawals. Always remove mail promptly from your mailbox, and stop delivery while you’re away. Shred mail that displays personal info on it, and restrict your online shopping to secure merchants (their websites will typically show a lock in the corner). Stephen Stephen D. Forman, CLTC Long-Term Care Associates Inc.

Use Common Sense

Hang up on anyone who calls and who is not someone you know, do not give donations to people who come to the door. Before giving to a charity check the organization out. If you are unsure of a family member handling your finances, hire a professional fiduciary so the family dynamics remain stable. And don’t be embarrassed to let someone know if you are being taken advantage of physically, emotionally, or financially. Donna Schempp, Elder Care Advocate

Don’t accept calls from businesses unless you call them. Don’t get hooked by misleading direct mail you receive from advertisers. Remove your name from many national direct mail lists by sending your name (in all variations by which you receive mail–including misspellings) to: Direct Marketing Association, Mail Preference Service, P.O. Box 643, Carmel, New York 10512. Scot Cheben,

If a person or company asks for money, get the their phone number and the name of the person. Hang up and then check them out by looking at their website to see if the phone numbers match. Ask the person requesting a donation to send something in the mail. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is! A great option is to Google the name of the company and “scam” and see what pops up. Laurie Miller,

Stay Current on Schemes

Check the AARP site for current fraud schemes. Be especially careful of answering your phone if you do not know who is calling. Many schemes are phone schemes. Get caller ID. Same with answering the door. Consider a door bell with a camera. Pick up your mail promptly. Mail theft is increasing. Throw away junk mail and solicitations unless it is a cause you know and support. Be alert and learn to use technology solutions to stay safe. Anthony Cirillo,

One must learn about the current scams and know that many are family members. If an elder prepares and accepts these facts, they are able to protect themselves. It is important to contact authorities if you are a victim. You can help other avoid the same scam. Learning more about risks and warning signs is important, knowledge is power! Kathy Birkett,

List your phone number on the DO NOT CALL list ( Do NOT ever give information out over the phone. For those on Facebook, don’t accept someone as a friend without checking to be sure they are who they say they are. Look at their friends, their page. Still not sure? Email or private message the friend on Facebook to verify they sent you an invite. Kaye Swain,

Keep Financial Data Safe

If you have an adult child you trust consider adding their name to your checking and credit card accounts and ask them to monitor. Never give anyone you do not know and trust the personal or banking information over the phone or the computer. If you are unsure ask for the callers phone number and call them back. Kathryn Watson,

One great tool we’ve found is the TrueLink Visa card. The card is set up with some restrictions, limits and tracking/alerts. Awareness and communication are key…many times elders don’t tell anyone they’ve been scammed because they’re ashamed. Money shouldn’t be such a taboo topic. Alex Chamberlain,

Make sure family is involved when making big decisions, don’t fall for SCAM emails, do not open your door to strangers, and stay on top of your bank accounts. Bryan London,

Avoid isolation, which can lead to loneliness, sadness, and depression and increase the possibility of abuse or neglect, even self-neglect. Beware of caregivers who might have a need for financial assistance or who have substance abuse issues. Discuss any significant financial decisions or changes to legal documents with someone you trust completely before taking action. Keep your legal and financial documents in a safe place. Consider executing legal documents such as a will, living will, and a power of attorney for finances and health care. Evan Farr, Farr Law Firm