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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. Linda

    Check the Elder Abuse in the nursing homes. I had to hire a private nurse to be with my husband when I could not be there. The Administrations of these homes turn a deaf ear when a complaint is lodged.

    • Snarky

      Look around for another place.

  2. delita

    In my opinion; one passived abuse is one of a son or daughter who turn their backs to elderly parents. There should be a law enforcement to that matter

    • Snarky

      Just what we need, more laws. Let’s enforce the ones we have.

  3. tony

    When does the new law for representative payee take effect? Is it true that parents and spouses living together in the same household do not have to do the annual accounting any longer.

    • Snarky

      This somehow seems off topic.

      • tony

        Hey stupid, your comment seems to be off topic.

    • Ray F.

      Hello Tony, we are currently preparing final guidelines to implement the “Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2017”. We will be making public announcements soon.
      Please stay tuned!

  4. Marc P.

    My 60 year old physicality and mentally disabled sister was beaten & raped by a 35 year old drifter who needed a place to stay. Because she locked herself in the bathroom after the initial attack, he called tjenpolice & told them some cockamamie story about how he lived there & she was some desperate old woman who thought he was her “boyfriend,” & that she’d taken his money. Incredibly, they came & demanded she come out & threatened to arrest HER for domestic violence. They didn’t believe her that she was a victim. For over 2 months this monster ate her food, lived in her apartment, stole her medications, cash she kept hidden & refused to leave. Doctors, caregivers, therapists alike called the police, who always came out but told her they couldn’t remove him from “his” residence. They didn’t believe her at all rhat he didnt live there. One night she texted her therapist she was going to commit suicide because she couldn’t take the abuse & insanity any longer. Finally one kind cop of the 3 who showed up talked the guy who was a horrible drug addict & alcoholic & was falling down drunk to go with them to rehab. He told my sister privately about a court form she could use to file an “eviction” so he couldn’t come back. This creep told the cops my sister was a drug dealer, selling her medications & the female cop almost took her in too. I found out when a few months later she attempted suicide, having suffered irreparable physical injury from the initial brutal assault. My sister has no $$, couldn’t afford a lawyer but too much income (SSDI) for legal aid, no friends or relatives, completely isolated. I’ve got no $to help her with, I’m also on SSDI & out mother is destitute on Social Security as well so we couldn’t have done anything from here, either. What’s up with these cops if even doctors reporting horrible elder abuse like this are ignored? My sister will never recover physically, emotionally, financially, & she’s terrified to call 911 in emergencies now as she’s scared there’s a record of her being a crazy old woman & no one will believe her. She’s terrified of cops, believing they’ll arrest HER or won’t help her if she’s ever in trouble. What’s the point?

    • Snarky

      And now you’ve told the whole world, what’s your point?

  5. Ersal B.

    Thank you very much for eye opening information,Godbless you all.

  6. Doreene F.

    I live in a hud subsidized rental the management allows the other residents to harassment me abuse and stalk me whenever I leave my apartment. Every time someone gets evicted the residences blame me for it and then I’m treated terrible the assistant manager is best friends with residences. Very unprofessional they have meetings and do not include me, I am very isolated

    • Snarky


    • Ola M.

      I was in a situation like you ! I was kind and giving, helped, provided transport for some who needed help, etc…long story. The stress of that place made me ill. After 2 years, they caught the manager stealing money and meds. The next manager was on drugs, thankfully, she was caught, too. After my son arranged to move me to his state and home, they got a very good manager. She is wonderful, a degree in Psychology. She went through all the records and found that the former managers signed our names to things we never saw.
      I hope your life improves..

  7. Marc

    My sister is still trying to put her life back together after horrible elder abuse where nearly a dozen people -from caregivers to doctors – reported the abuse but authorities dropped the ball repeatedly. She was 60, 93 lbs & 5′ tall; physically disabled & mentally challenged. Her daily caregiver had quit & the agency was struggling to get her someone every day while trying to find another permanent caregiver. She’d been selling stuff online to downsize & someone came to look at something. They brought a “cousin” w/them, 36, 280 lbs, & when they left, he came back to “chat.” It was rather late, 9pm or so, she remembers this but not why he returned nor why shwblet him in (she’s not all there) he remembers nothing more than him coming in & sitting down, telling jokes, then awakening to being raped on the floor. He’d beaten her & stolen her medications & phone, & all the $ she’d been saving for bills. When she woke again it was morning & he was asleep in her bed. He became violent when she woke him trying to run him out, hitting her again & throwing things so she locked herself in the bathroom. He told her through the door he w

    • Snarky

      Don’t you think this is a private matter for the police?

  8. Fred L.

    I need a replacement SS card. I must have lost my card. Please send me instructions to apply for a replacement card.

    Fred Lum

    • cat

      You can apply online if you live in one of the states on this map

    • Ray F.

      Hello Fred, we prefer a government issued document with your picture, as proof of identity to replace your Social Security card. If you do not have one or you cannot get one within a reasonable amount of time, we may be able to use other documents such as:
      •Employee identification card;
      •School identification card;
      •Health insurance card; or
      •U.S. military identification card.
      Any document you submit, must be an original or certified copy, current (not expired) and show your name, and other identifying information (date of birth or age).
      Also, realize that you may not need a replacement card. You will rarely need to show it. Knowing your Social Security number is what is important.
      To see if you’re eligible to apply for a replacement Social Security card online or to learn more on the process and what documents you will need to get a card, please visit our “Social Security Number and Card” web page. We hope this helps!

  9. Andranetta M.

    I feel like I was taken advantage of by Wells Fargo Mortgage company in 2008 via refinancing. I was 64 years old at the time. Can you refer me to an agency who can help pro bono or will consider taking my case on contingency. Reaching out. Web site was most helpful.

    • Snarky

      Try the County Bar Association.



    • delita

      Get Inma flight and come to find your father and take care of him

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