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Five Ways to Fight Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation

June 14, 2018 • By

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Last Updated: June 14, 2018

Lance Robertson HHS Studio shot

As Americans, we believe that people of all ages and abilities deserve to be treated fairly and equally and to live free from abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Tomorrow, on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we join the world in recognizing the importance of elders to our communities and standing up for their rights. Here are five ways you can join this fight.

1. Break Down Isolation

We cannot talk about elder abuse without talking about social isolation. Elders without strong social networks face a greater risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. It is up to all of us to ensure that our communities are supporting and engaging older adults. One simple way to do this is by staying in touch with the older adults in your community. So go ahead and knock on your neighbor’s door just to say “hi” or start an intergenerational book club or movie night. You can also support community efforts to empower elders and fight isolation; act by volunteering to deliver meals or serve as a long-term care ombudsman.

2. Learn to Spot “Red Flags”

There are a number of “red flags” that could suggest the presence of elder abuse. Examples include:

  • Isolation (especially by a caregiver);
  • Unpaid bills or utilities that have been turned off;
  • Unusual or quick changes in a will or other financial documents;
  • Missing medications; and
  • Bruises or welts (especially on the face).

Even if you are not certain abuse is taking place, you can report any suspicions of abuse so a professional can investigate.

3. Connect With Resources in Your Community

There are a variety of local resources in your community that help address elder abuse and social isolation. Adult Protective Services agencies investigate, and can respond to, suspected abuse. Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs advocate for residents of care facilities. Area Agency on Aging and Aging and Disability Resource Centers can offer meals, health and wellness programs, and caregiver support programs, and Older Americans Act Legal Services Providers can offer legal help. The Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116) can connect you to all of these programs.

4. Watch Out for Scams and Fraud

Whether it is a foreign prince or a mystery caller with an exclusive “investment opportunity,” scammers steal billions of dollars from seniors every year. Here are a few tips to help you protect yourself:

  • Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry online or call 888-382-1222 to reduce telemarketing calls.
  • If you suspect Social Security fraud, report it online or call 800-269-0271.
  • Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
  • Check with a lawyer or trusted family member before signing any document you do not completely understand.

5. Talk About It

Many older adults who face abuse, neglect, or exploitation feel guilty or ashamed about their experience. One study found that for every reported case of elder abuse, 23 cases go unreported. We must become more comfortable talking about abuse in a way that makes clear that everyone, no matter what their age, is worthy of dignity and respect. Victims should never feel embarrassed or feel that they are responsible for the abuse they experienced.

The abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults goes against everything we stand for as a country. Tomorrow, as we recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and throughout the year, let’s take a stand for justice. You can find more resources at the National Center on Elder Abuse, an Administration for Community Living resource center.

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  1. petokulu

    To report misuse, call us at 1-800-772-1213 or you can contact your local Social Security office.
    köpek tuvalet eğitimi

  2. Willette R.


  3. Alana

    My sister has been caretaker for my fathet but I noticed his accounts are empty now. What can I do?

    • V.V.

      Hi Alana, thank you for using our blog. If your sister is your father’s representative payee, then she is required to keep records of all payments received and how they are spent or saved. Usually, Social Security will send a “Representative Payee Accounting Report” once a year.

      If you think your sister is misusing your father’s benefits, tell Social Security right away. We will investigate all allegations of misuse, gather facts and evidence, and make a decision on whether misuse has occurred. You will receive a letter from Social Security telling you what we found. If we find misuse, Social Security may name a new representative payee for you or send the benefits to you directly. We will then take action to recover the misused money.

      If your sister is not the representative payee, perhaps your father needs one. Go to our Representative Payee web page for additional details.

      To report misuse, call us at 1-800-772-1213 or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  4. Phyllis G.

    I appreciate the resources you have provided here on the website, I want to talk briefly about the abusive conduct of Individuals in several government agencies toward me that spans a decade. At age 60, I’m still fighting wrongs that happen long ago. Here is the thing, I don’t have to tell you that once you’ve experienced this abuse, and the perpetrators succeed the first time without getting into trouble, they will continue their abuse and the victim is noted as “fair game “.
    Over the years I thought about visiting Lansing and finding someone to tell my story too, but haven’t a made the trip. But after this last stunt that Social Security and DHS has pulled, I am planning to go.

    • A.C.

      Hi, Phyllis. We are sorry to hear about your experience. You can submit feedback related to your experience by visiting our Contact Social Security page. Once there, select the “Email Us” link. This will take you to the “Email A Question to our Support Team” form, where you can complete and submit a compliment, complaint, or suggestion. We hope this helps.

  5. Kirsty W.

    What can I do if it’s the Social Security Administration that is effectively abusing/neglecting a disabled elderly person?

  6. Theresa v.

    I am staying with an elderly man that has been physically and financially exploited by his grown grandkids and now they are physically attacking me and I am a neck breather help they crawl in and out the back window when locked out do drugs never contribute to household supplies or upkeep help

  7. Richard S.

    It’s really quite simple, homelessness, please address this serious issue Nationally

    Especially if you believe in your opening salutation…good day

  8. James V.

    I libe in a 55+ mobile hiome park in Apple Valley California, . The manager here is the primary care giver for 3-4 old ladies in this park.. The manager is manufactoring canna butter and distributing it out to alot of the elderly ladies here in the park
    I’m not sure if she selling it to them or just gibing it away. This seems to me to be eldery abuse. As I beliebe several of the ladies have no idea what there being given

  9. Deborah W.

    My Mother is a victim of elderly financial exploitation and the NC laws do not protect her because abuse of power of attorney is not recognized. My 96 year-old Mother has lost her home and all her money because my older sister used the POA as a license to steal and has gotten away with it because the NC Statutes protect her. The laws need to be changed to fully protect the elderly . I’m not even allowed to talk to the District Attorney in our area about it. Adult Protective Services were no help – they said it was no longer ongoing so they wouldn’t report it to law enforcement. It’s no longer going on because there’s no more to take from my Mother. Law Enforcement said they could do nothing because my sister had power of attorney.

  10. Rubye R.

    My husband used sexual abuse on me and I believe this contributed to a condition which caused me to have Tumors in my Uterus. I had to have surgery as a result. The Dr’s told me it was very abnormal for a woman my age to have 66 years old. My husband has used mental, and emotional abuse also. I became afraid for my life and moved. I need help for medical costs.

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