Betty Balderson (Elder Abuse Prevention Advocate at Legal Services for the Elderly) spoke to a small but appreciative group at To Your Health’s presentation on elder abuse last Thursday, September 21. Abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological, and may involve neglect and abandonment, but by far the most common type of abuse is financial exploitation.
What’s financial exploitation? Perhaps a grandmother gives her credit card to her grandson to pick up a prescription, but the grandson also uses that card to pay his bills. Or a daughter convinces her mother to withdraw money from the bank and “give” it to her.
Why do family members do this? Some may rationalize that they’re going to get the money anyway, why not take it now when they need it. Why does the senior not report it? They may feel they are dependent on the family for care, they may be in denial, or think that it is just a “family problem.”
Friends and neighbors can learn to recognize the red flags of elder abuse:
- Changes in appearance and personality
- Change in routine -- no longer participating in events enjoyed in the past
- Social isolation or family not allowing visitors
- Sudden loss of ability to meet financial obligations
- Senior states or implies problems/conflicts with caregiver
Watch, Listen, Do Something!
- If worried about immediate danger, call 911. Or try talking with the senior about your concerns.
- Report your concerns to Adult Protective Services -- it’s confidential. 800-624-8404
- Help the senior call Legal Services for the Elderly (free to everyone over 60). 800-750-5353
- Contact Oxford County’s Area Agency on Aging -- Seniors Plus. 800-427-1241
Betty Balderson says there is no wrong choice in who to contact -- all of these agencies know about the others and will help you find the right person to talk to. If you do something, you’re doing the right thing!