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

June 14, 2018 • By

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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. Erica

    Hello, I need advice my grandma is paralyze on her left side of her body. My aunt who has been her care giver and Power of Attorney for 3 yares now. She is trying to abandon my grandma out here in Maryland and take my grandda and his retirementcheck and move to Mississippi which is a milloin miles away from DC. She gives them alcohol while knowing that they take medication. They are afraid to talk because she has cameras looking and listening on them in the privacy of their home. She doesnt always make sure they eat and she diesnt change my grandma very often. What am I suppose to do!?

    • Ann C.

      Hi, Erica. We are sorry to hear about your family’s situation. If you suspect misuse of Social Security benefits, report it. We will investigate all allegations of misuse, gather facts and evidence, and make a decision on whether misuse has occurred. Please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) Monday through Friday, between 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. to speak to one of our representatives. Or you can contact your local Social Security office. Thanks!

      • Erica

        Thank You.

  2. Fred H.

    Fred Hutchings 3/9/19
    27 Congress St.
    Fitchburg, MA 01420

    To Whom It May Concern,


    I have written to government agencies and have either not heard back, or, been told that there is nothing they could do. I am very much at a loss as what to do. Please inform.
    My name is Frederick Hutchings. I am a 67-year-old stage 4 cancer patient at Mass. General Hospital under the care of Dr. Andrew Yee., totally disabled, with severe spinal damage caused by the cancer. This very, very much concerns the rights and safety of the elderly and disabled. This involves thousands of people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The failure to respond to such concerns leaves in place a very serious condition in our society. It leaves it unchecked. It leaves many of the elderly and disabled in great danger.
    This concerns a former roommate of mine, Christopher Cattel, Jr., about age 40. He was my roommate sense about November, 25, 2018. He suffers from severe mental illness which creates erratic aggressive behavior. I although he is no longer my roommate, he wreaked havoc in my life stole over $400 and cost me hundreds more. I was told that he currently has, or had, two restraining orders against him.
    I blame the Mass. Department of Mental Health for this crisis more than him. He is one person. The MDMH is a large government beau acracy in trusted by the public with the care of thousands of people in his situation. Recently, it has come to my attention that the Mass. Department of Mental Health denies all responsibility and misconduct at the placing of Christopher Cattel, Jr., in my home.
    This letter asserts that the Mass. Department of Mental Health knew that Mr. Cattel was extremely mentally ill and a danger to both himself and others at the time he moved into 27 Congress St. Fitchburg, MA 01420. They knew that Mr. Cattel had a long history of Mental Illness and dangerous behavior and you deliberately and maliciously covered these facts up and failed to disclose these facts to the other residents of Congress St. This Material Misrepresentation significantly put in danger the other residents of Congress St. they were present at Mr. Cattel’s initial appointment for the house and did not disclose his serious mental illness. They knew that such a disclosure would prevent Mr. Cattel from moving into Congress St. They knew that this would put the other roommates in great danger and they deliberately covered these facts up.
    I have been in constant contact with Ms. Storie and Cafarella of the Fitchburg, MA office of the Mass. Dept. of Mental Health with constant updates of the increasing violent and dangerous behavior of Mr. Cattel and they continue to do nothing about my requests.
    Several times in the past, Mrs. Kouchar, Mr. Cattel’s mother reported that she was very worried that escalating violence in this situation could be very dangerous for everyone, including Chris. She would like to see Christopher removed from this environment for his own safety. He is not making good decisions and does not seem capable of taking care of himself right now. She asked me to call you. She told me that she thinks he needs to be committed. She will go to court to try to do this, if you will go with her.
    This proves that the Mass. Department of Mental Health knew that Mr. Cattel past and ongoing behavior imposed a danger to himself and others and actively covered it up.
    Society owes a special duty to the elderly and disabled. To ignore this duty makes all of us unsafe.
    Thank You for your attention to this matter.


    Frederick W. Hutchings

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  4. Linda S.

    The help does not come once you leave. Your left to fend for yourself. Owner of property since 1975. Married 15 years. Spouse talked me into adding his name and making all joint property, bank accounts, stocks, and my vehicle. I had no mortgages and no loans. I had my home all updated and a new garage just built. He tore the inside of the house up. Walls, floors, ceiling and woodwork. I was told what I could and not eat, when to speak not speak. He would purposely walk into me twist my arm, degrade me in front of people. I could not leave without him being along. He accompanied me to medical appointments. I became extremely ill and had to quit to the point I could no longer work. I had to use a cane, slept 20 hrs a day and pain was horrid. It took 4 years to get disability. To shorten this I found my spouse had way over $100,000 in 2013 and while visiting my daughter I received a call from his Personal Broker by accident? I was informed my spouse had moved all the stocks into his Private account. I filed for divorce a few months later. I found spouse had place 3 mortgages on property. My attorney did nothing, no subpoenas, affidavits, my medical records, basically threw me under the bus. I received what I knew he had about 17%. He received all the rest. Unknown is his true worth. A new attorney cannot undo the damage and judge denied motion of hardship. His income per month $5,100, mine $1,300. I cannot find a legal malpractice attorney. Unless I need a different type. I feel I have no hope. Chronic medical conditions are worse and will continue to do so.

  5. LaShaw S.

    I just wanted to say thank you Lance Robertson for bringing this issue to light. We all need to remember these people for one are still people. They are all our grandmother’s and grandfather’s. And without them bringing our parents into this world, we wouldn’t exist either. At this time of there lives for some, there ability to care for themselves already can be a challenge. In addition to that when safety is another thing to add to there lives if makes things even more complicated. I’m also a supporter of the safety for the elderly. In a video can be found here: will give a visual of some of the torture elderly have to deal with even at places we least expect safety would be a concern. I too believe “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”. Not just the elderly but everyone.

  6. Andie B.

    Please help my daughter, she wants to die in her own home

  7. adrianna b.

    Mark Harmon in Valdosta Georgia is keeping my cancer riddled daughter from her friends and family He has moved her from her home to a place out in the country and will not allow any one that LOVES HER access The address he has her is 5507 Carter Dr. Hahira ,Georga 31632.My daughters name is Dawn Harmon. He has taken her phone away from her His sister is supposed to be taking of her ,but despite how hungry my daughter gets , cindy will only feed Dawn when cindy feels like it . Mark , when he found out Dawn was dying took out a 2 Million dollar Insurance policy on Dawn without her knowing about it.

  8. TAmila N.

    How can I report total neglect, abandonment, and mental manipulation of a social security recepient by a spouse

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Tamila, if you suspect misuse of Social Security benefits, report it. We will investigate all allegations of misuse, gather facts and evidence, and make a decision on whether misuse has occurred.

  9. Patricia m.

    I am 62 years old and have lived in a independent living facility been here for 8 years. I have been giving a 30 days to move out do to my grandson and his girl friend. I tried to ask them to stop coming around here. I couldn’t stop them, so the complex keep giving me infraction. Until finally I got a 30 day notice to move out. I am disabled with a couple mentally ill dicnosees. Is there anything that can help me stay where I’m at. I need to be out on the 25 of July. Please help me thank you for your time in this matter.

    • Ray F.

      We are sorry to hear of your difficult situation, Patricia. You may be able to receive assistance from the state where you live. You can get information about services in your area from your state or local social services office. You can also visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) web page for more information.
      We hope this information helps.

  10. Daniel B.

    With few government safeguards, sometimes the only help available for victims of such practices are lawyers who focus on financial fraud and investment loss recovery, especially at the hands of financial advisors, brokers, and broker dealers. My colleagues and I have our hands full, and some of the stories we hear are truly tragic. The elderly and disabled are particularly vulnerable. Always get a second and third opinion before making any large financial decision. Always take documents home and review all documents carefully before signing anything. If an investment does not perform as promised, act immediately and do not wait for it to rebound as a financial advisor may tell you. For more information about options for victims, contact an experienced attorney who may advise you of your rights and options. For more information, about elder financial fraud, contact me or review information on my website.

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