Protecting our Elderly from Neglect, Abuse, and Fraud
"People often find it surprising to learn that elder abuse is a family problem, with three out of four abusers being a spouse, child or other relative. About 75 percent of the alleged victims are women, and the average age is 78." Illinois Department on Aging Director Margo E. Schreiber
The 2004 Survey of State Adult Protective Services found that of the 32 states that were able to distinguish reports where the victim was at least
60 years old, there were 253,426 total reports. These statistics underline the prevalence of elderly abuse, indicating that for every 1,000 people over the age of 60, there were 8.3 reported cases of abuse.
Broadly defined there are three basic categories of elder abuse; domestic, institutional and self-neglect or self-abuse. Domestic elder abuse generally refers to any of form of mistreatment of an older person by someone who has a relationship with the elder such as a family member or their caregiver. Institutional abuse generally refers to mistreatment that occurs in residential facilities such as nursing homes, assisted living and board and care homes. Institutional abuse is usually done by those who have a legal obligation to provide elder victims with care and protection. Definitions and legal terminologies vary from state to state in regards to the types of domestic elder abuse. The types of abuse range from physical, sexual and emotional to caregiver neglect, abandonment, financial exploitation and self-neglect. Examine these signs and symptoms of each type of abuse identified by the National Center on Elder Abuse if you are concerned about an elderly friend or family member.
Summary of the Rights of Nursing Home Residents. Familiarize yourself with these if your loved one resides in a nursing home.
For Help Regarding Elder Abuse
When domestic elder abuse occurs, it can be addressed if it is brought to the attention of the authorities. Although each state has a different system to address elder abuse, the National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home reform provides an excellent, state specific directory of the agencies that have been established by federal, state and local governments to help: Some of them include: Adult Protective services and Social Service Depts., State Elder Abuse Hotlines, Long Term Care Ombudsman, Info and Referral via local Area on Aging, Local Law Enforcement.
A Long Term Care Ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, and assisted living facilities. Click Here to learn more about ombudsmen. To locate YOUR state's ombudsman Click Here.
Concerns an Ombudsman Addresses:
- Advocate for residents' rights and quality care
- Educate consumers and providers
- Resolve residents' complaints
- Provide information to the public
- Violation of residents' rights or dignity
- Physical, verbal or mental abuse, deprivation of services necessary to maintain residents' physical and mental health; or unreasonable confinement
- Poor quality of care, including inadequate personal hygiene and slow response to requests for assistance
- Improper transfer or discharge of patient
- Inappropriate use of chemical or physical restraints
- Any resident concern about quality of care or quality of life
Studies by the American Association of Retired Persons show that most elderly fraud victims don't make the connection between illegal telemarketing and criminal activity. They don't associate the voice on the phone with someone who could be trying to steal their money.
Telemarketing fraud robs U.S. citizens of at least $40 billion annually, according to Congressional estimates, and surveys by the American Association of Retired Persons indicate that over half of those victims are age 50 or older.
The number and variety of telemarketing scams are growing with many targeted specifically at the elderly. Recovery Room Scams, are when telemarketers prey on people who have already been victimized from previous scams by promising to get them their refunds or prizes, 900 numbers where consumers are enticed to pay for calls in return for some bogus information such as how to receive free credit cards, and of course many senior's favorite are the contests like Sweepstakes, which lure them in with false offers of cash or prizes.
Some of our elderly who believe they are Internet savvy might also fall prey to fraud. You don't have to look far on the Internet to find health products that are totally bogus, prescriptions that are illegal and consumers who are unsuspecting.
More on this topic:
Elder Abuse and Fraud - More Information
The Elderly & Internet Dangers