Disability, Frauds & Scams

Learn the Signs, Help Prevent Elder Abuse

June 16, 2016 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: August 19, 2021

WEADDFor more than 80 years, Social Security has helped secure today and tomorrow with financial benefits, information, and tools that provide a safety net throughout life’s journey.

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day that reminds us how important it is to protect seniors in our communities.

Each year, millions of elderly adults are abused, neglected, or are financially exploited.  Often they are taken advantage of by those they trust and rely upon for assistance. According to the Administration on Aging, elders throughout the country lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually as a result of financial abuse and exploitation. Countries across the world observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to bring awareness to this epidemic.

It is critical, especially for public servants, that we do our part to protect seniors and other vulnerable persons who are at risk of financial exploitation. In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I ask that you take time to learn the signs of elder abuse and neglect so that you will recognize them in the future. This will go a long way toward not only preventing abuse of those we serve, but also possibly preventing your loved ones from becoming victims.  Over the years, I have learned of heartbreaking cases of seniors who have lost their life’s savings as a result of deceptive scams and unscrupulous individuals.  We must work diligently to prevent such unthinkable acts.

On June 16, the second World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Global Summit will be held. It is a day of collaboration with national policy makers, advocates, financial services institutions, media, social services organizations and members of the public. I will share the many steps we have taken to raise awareness and to prevent the incidence of financial exploitation.

There is so much to learn about this issue. I encourage you to visit the Administration for Community Living and www.ncea.aoa.gov for more information. As we increase our awareness, each of us can become more proactive in our efforts to protect elderly adults in our communities and families.

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About the Author

Stacy Rodgers, Chief of Staff, Social Security Administration

Stacy Rodgers, Chief of Staff, Social Security Administration


  1. Lic. P.

    “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day”. It’s a very important theme in our country, unfortunately we seen at first hand how our elderlies people are abuse for their families, friend, and care givers too. Many cases are reporting to the authorities, but the investigations have a long time, and the elderlies are abused a long time more.
    There are many “Rent Complex for Elderlies”, that the people suffer abuse for the employees, and manager too. When the elder people can’t life in a Rent Complex normal, or with independent living, which means that it’s contradictory for people with disability mental or physic complete, that we observe frequently.

    I believe that the authorities that works with this people, most be observe this type of cases on the ground.

  2. Tom N.

    Thank you for this valuable information.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you Tom! We’re pleased we can help.

  3. Diane K.

    Ms. Rogers, from personal experience, on behalf of my mother, who was physically abused and forced from her own home by my nephew (her only grandson), and has been staying with me to recover her health, as well as for her safety, I can tell you that society does NOTHING of ANY substance to address the issue of ELDER ABUSE. NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Well…. actually…. society penalizes the victim and rewards the abuser. I can certainly bear witness to that. My mother is continuing to pay mortgage to avoid losing her equity, for a house she will likely NEVER be able to return to without endangering her life. Lawyers want more money than she can pay to take complex and lengthy legal action against her grandson, with no assurance of an outcome in favor of my mother. My mother does not want to sell her home, but several realtors have been pushing her to sell at pricing that would leave her homeless AND penniless. Social Services will take NO action because there are occasionally small children involved, my mother’s great grandchildren, whom her grandson uses as human shields against society (for instance, to prevent utilities he cannot pay for from being shut off). Police say they cannot remove this thug from my mother’s home because she, understandably, had invited him, as her only grandson, into her home AS A GUEST. Even when they were called to the home, immediately after she been physically assaulted by her grandson, the police said they would have had to “catch him in the act” of physically assaulting my mother to justify arresting him. Instead, they tried to “reason with him” to let her back into her OWN home while she stood crying, injured and in shock in her OWN driveway. She had to walk away from her home and everything she had ever owned, because our laws protect the violent thugs, like my nephew, and say “If you “REALLY” fear for your safety, it is up to YOU (the victim) to remove yourself from harm’s way”. She lived in her car with her little dog, refusing to reveal her situation or ask for help from me or anybody else, out of embarrassment that she had been powerless to keep her home, that she had been assaulted and stolen from by a family member she thought she could trust, and out of what little sense of personal pride she had left, until she became too ill to continue doing so. SO…. LISTEN CAREFULLY….. THERE IS NOTHING ANYBODY IN SOCIETY COULD DO TO PREVENT OR STOP ELDER ABUSE, EVEN IF THEY WANTED TO. Believe me, I’ve tried. She has tried. It has been nearly three years since she was forced from her home, three years of her trying to help herself and three years of me trying to help her. She has spent days going from window to window in courthouses, coming away with volumes of paperwork peppered with legalese and classical Latin to fill out. Days upon days of phoning and visiting so-called “advocates” that passed her from one to another until she had come, repeatedly, full circle… and was told there was nothing that could be done to help her. So what good does “knowing the signs of elder abuse” DO? NONE for the victims. NADA. ZIP. ZILCH. It is up to those who care about our elders to take personal action. It is up to those of us who can to provide shelter to do so. It is up to us to pay legal fees on their behalf, if we can afford to. It is up to us to confront the thugs doing harm. It is up to us to step in and stop the abuse, personally, at risk of OUR OWN personal harm. Maybe, while we do that, some decent soul will capture it on film and call the police to witness it and, therefore, justify an arrest. Maybe some decent soul will capture it in a video and publish it on every social media site they can find to do so. It is only when the evidence of how much and how often and by whom this atrocity is being committed that we may be able to create change in society. At the very least, those of us who DO take action, will begin to be able to provide moral support to each other. Social programs? Pfffffffffffffft! At least “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day” gave me this chance to share this with you. Otherwise, that’s about it. I worry for all of us as we, the Baby Boomers, become elders ourselves. I worry for myself.

    • Ga

      I’ve been in the real estate business. If the home is truly your mothers, check your state statutes. There will be a provision or rule in there that describes how to evict. Use a no-cause notice of termination of vacancy (or whatever they call it in your state). If the notice rules are scrupulously followed, you could have this “gent” out in about 30 days. And the sheriff will help you, as long as you have properly served notice and the thug is still there. They will escort them out. Then, change all locks and get a simple security system. If you give a reason, it opens the door to the “tenant” fighting you in court.

      • Diane K.

        Thank you, however, it is truly her home. Also, to take action against him as a “tenant” DOES give him an opportunity to claim “renter’s rights” in California… and he is NOT a renter. He does NOT pay rent. Also, beginning proceedings against him as a “Tenant” would make my mother liable as a “Landlord”… which she surely is NOT…. and all of the applicable tax liabilities associated with that. We are stuck between a rock and hard place. We have looked into these potential actions, in depth.

        • Mel P.

          Everywhere, our government systems are about as useless as what you are talking about. I feel so sad about all of this, and so adding more only makes it worse. Perhaps get your local rep or congressman involved?

    • curt

      Diane K., Your story gave me chills in recalling similar BS that my wife and I lived in care giving her father after heart surgery/stroke. The story is long and painful. My concern is for your mental state in years to come. We live in a world of depression and PTSD with Dr. care/meds. The bastard has convinced all family members that we were the ‘bandits’, as he is. We are outcasts today and guess that we lost $70K. plus. Forgive and forget, closure?…, no such things. Please take care of YOU! How? No clue. Good Luck.

      • Diane K.

        Thank you for the empathy, Curt. Sorry to hear of your family’s similar suffering. It is truly epidemic, yet so few seem to speak out (or are able to speak out). I gave up counting how much this has cost my mother and I. I suspect it is well into six figures by now. It took my mother over a year to stop crying. As you can probably tell, I am still angry. But, the good news is, we have forged a stronger bond. I helped my mother resume a long loved hobby (oil painting). I am building a new business from my home (I’m an engineer). We are coping pretty well and help each other tap our stores of resilience every day. It is unfortunate we need to. I wish you well and encourage you to continue seeking solutions. It is why I posted this information. Perhaps people who write things like this post for the government know where the help is that we have not yet been able to find and will reach out to us. Otherwise, we can at least provide enough information to let you, and others like us, know we are not alone and offer a few kind words of support.

        • Chris

          In her will I would make sure that she leaves the house to whomever she wants to. He will have to find elsewhere to live then!

  4. Kat H.

    Thank you so much for this info. I live in a senior apartment complex and I believe there Is a resident that is abused by her 2 children. Not a lot, but enough. We’ve talked about it but she lets it happen.

    • Lisa H.

      You can still call APS if you suspect.

    • Diane K.

      Hi Kat – I believe this is an underlying root cause for elder abuse, just as it is for domestic violence. The relationships are complicated. The emotions rule over what might seem most sensible. Why do seniors let others abuse them without calling for help? Why does anybody stay in a harmful relationship? Because they love the people doing the abuse and do not want them to be harmed, despite their own suffering. Because they are in denial that somebody they love, somebody they thought they would always be able to trust, has harmed them… and continues to do so. Because they are embarrassed about not having seen it coming, about being such a poor judge of character, about giving their hearts (and money) to the wrong people, about not being able to defend themselves. Because they think they’ll be smart enough or strong enough to defend themselves more effectively the next time. Because they can’t believe the systems in place to protect them, systems they’ve been taught WOULD protect them, have failed so miserably. Because they have faith that everything bad thing in life happens for a good reason. Because they think, or hope, their abusers will change… and were, perhaps, just having bad days before. I was the kind of person who walked away from a seven year relationship after being physically abused by my spouse just once…. but not everybody is like that. My late sister stayed with a man who broke her bones over and over and over again. She loved him to the end. Why do people let others abuse them? It is a question that has many conflicting and complex responses. All of that being said, knowing that a person is being abused by another, is no excuse for silent witness. I am glad you spoke up about your concern here. I hope you will keep talking with the resident in your complex who is being abused… and I hope you will reach out to others who may be able to help your fellow resident deal with this situation more effectively… or help prevent her further abuse by her 2 children. The pain of seeing a person be brutalized or robbed is, in my opinion, a crime against the witnesses as much as it is against the person brutalized or robbed in many respects. It is why those who survive or witness mass shootings are offered counseling. The witnesses have been harmed, emotionally, psychologically and, because of the way our thoughts impact our bodies, physically, too. Helping to prevent abuse of somebody you have seen is being abused is, in this regard, also self-defense, isn’t it?

  5. John B.

    Might I suggest that you give us a little more notice in future years…like 30 days…? So that we know this day is coming up, soon. Also, a concise but detailed explanation of what is EA and who can do it, because it seems the term is mis-used due lack of knowledge of facts … and given the imagination and creativity of people who want to help, the waters are muddied by all these alleged EA actions which do not really qualify. Thank you. jb

    • Ty

      This day is recognized across the world. It is June 15th each year. Mark your calendar.

    • curt

      Research X 10 !

  6. Joyce h.

    I think my mother finances may
    Be used by her daughter that is her power of attorney. She won’t release any of mom’s bank statements. By request of attorney.

    • curt

      Is mom able to make decisions? Keep digging!

    • Diane K.

      Hi Joyce – Be persistent. Get your own legal aid on behalf of your mother. I agree with curt. Keep trying.

    • sandra g.

      If you know the bank you can ask them to report financial abuse to the Dept of Economic Securiity. If it meets the criteria they will then open a case with Adult Protective Services and it will be investigated.

  7. Benjamin F.

    Much needed information RESPECT YOUR ELDERS is much-needed!!!

  8. Ann M.

    Thank you for information.

  9. L. N.

    We are encouraged to learn the signs of elder abuse. You should have listed things to watch for in this communication to help people be more aware of what to look for and what could be happening to a family member or acquaintance.

    • Art

      I too could have used this information.

    • Robert W.

      Cheers!!! My thoughts also..Still don’t know the signs. I’m 88 yrs old and too tired to continue searching.

    • Joseph

      I concur, in fact the only reason I looked at this at all was because it seemed there should be bullet point list of abuse red flags.

    • Christine D.

      Encouragement would be, Who in the hell do I speak to for immediate HELP IN HELPING THE ABUSED ?? Where’s THAT INFORMATION?!!!!

      • rhonda h.

        i need help for my mother asap

        • Ray F.

          For assistance with Social Security benefits, please call our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). Representatives are available between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Thanks!

  10. Perriann

    Thanks for posting about this important topic!

    • Sheridan L.

      I doubt if it or the previous were publish. You’re all about the Patriot Act.

    • Ray F.

      Thank you! Your thoughts are important to us and we’re pleased when feedback is positive.

      • Diane K.

        Hey Ray, do ‘you’ (as ‘us’, the Social Security Administration) ONLY appreciate positive feedback? Would you rather not hear about situations whereby this information was NOT helpful? Is that your role? To thank the people who say nice things about your organization and blatantly ignore those who share uncomfortable truths which indicate the systems in place are not working? How much are ‘we’ (the tax payers) paying for you to do that? Because if that is all we’re getting for our money… I’d rather it not be spent that way.

        • CJ


          • Ray F.

            To submit your comment, complaint or suggestion, you can write to us or send us an email message. Thanks.

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