Disability, Frauds & Scams

Learn the Signs, Help Prevent Elder Abuse

June 16, 2016 • By

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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. tony

    I haven’t seen the SSA OIG bust any elderly on SSI. There is probably a lot of elderly financially abusing the SSA.

  2. Marie G.

    I too was financially abused by my son and his wife, they took a four-plex that I
    had was buying, it was rented. I went to a sheriff, told him my problems, he
    thought I had enough proof to proceed legally, at the time our district attorney
    was having legal wife problems and refused to even look into my problems.
    I found a private attorney who tried t help, because of my lack of finances, the
    best we could do was hire a retired judge for an arbitration hearing, he didn’t
    bother to hear anything I had to say, because he said I didn’t have a witness,
    neither did my son, although his wife went as his witness, when he and I spoke, no one was present, except the two of us, Everything I’ve heard about available
    help sounds great, But, It doesn’t work in the real would. Marie

  3. Evelyn

    Your mother is a selfish bitch. Unfortunately there isn’t anything you can do to change that. I am sorry that she is letting you down when you need her most.
    That happened to me. I got a brain injury in a car accident and the family I thought I could count on didn’t care at all.
    Have you applied for social security disability? It would help you financially.

    • DMC

      No. I am on social security retirement and it is more than disability benefits. I just need to find my own place very soon that is low income. Thank you, Evelyn, for your thoughts.

  4. DMC

    Here is my situation…I am 67 years of age and I am living with my mother, age 89. She decided to charge me rent after living with her. Then said the rent would be $400 per month. At the time, I just moved back to California from the mid-west after suffering severe financial hardship in 2013. I had lots of monthly obligations to pay, however, she stated that she did not care. I have been here for nearly 3 years and I have had to deal with her changing the rules about rent and other issues that pertain to living in her home. Since 2013, I have had to call APS (Adult Protective Services) and the police (more than once) to deal with her. She has emotionally abused me (this was her way of dealing with things she did not agree with that I did financially). Additionally, I had brain surgery October 2015, and upon my discharge from the hospital, she proceeded to continue her abusiveness towards me. At one point before having surgery (September 2015), she continued to harangue on my shortcomings (health mostly) and my financial woes. Because of the health issues I had, I became incontinent and she took upon herself to hose me down in the back yard (naked). What was not known at the time is that I had a brain tumor that had affected me for several years. This, too, did not matter to her. She and my two younger brothers have scolded me for my unwillingness to comply with her wishes; I had to report them as well. Now she is trying to force me out of the house when she encouraged me to come live with her. I understand it is her home, but I am paying rent and have had to consult with a couple of attorneys to determine what my options are when I don’t have a sufficient sum of money to secure my own place. It is almost like she is bent on making me a homeless person. It, also, doesn’t matter to her that the process to obtain either section 8 housing or low income housing takes many months and even years. At present, I am looking for low income housing (I began this process in November 2015 (surgery to remove a benign tumor took place in October 2015). My concern now is the my youngest brother has been offered $2,000 to move me to the state of Washington where my son lives. Additionally, I am under doctor’s care and will not be released, at the very least, October 2016. I am still undergoing tests and observation since having the tumor removed. What can I do to get her to stop her from harassing me on every situation? Is this a type of abuse? One attorney I spoke with wanted thousands of dollars to work, and then said my case is not sufficient to work. I got very discouraged and now I can only hope that my brother does not try to move me against my will.

  5. Hospitals &.

    Social Security Amendments of January 1, 2016 and 2016 Annual Report to the Board of Trustees of the OASDI Trust Funds and SSI Program HA-6-6-16 http://www.title24uscode.org/ss1.htm

    If you want to reduce elder abuse, wildfires, and rampage shootings, fire the National Institute of Disability Independent Living and Research (NIDILR) and appoint a Disability and Independent Living (DIL) webpage with a “class president” of the disabled in the Administration on Community Living (ACL) under Sec. 1.

  6. tony

    Every time one of those elderly dies, the Social Security Administration saves money. The big pharmaceutical kickbacks to the nursing home prescribing off label prescription and killing seniors actually helped the SSA.

    The federal government probably already developed a virus that kills only the elderly.

  7. Diane K.

    Stacy and Ray – Why have you said NOTHING in response to any of the comments about actual elder abuse situations posted in response to this article? Your silence may be speaking louder than words, you know.

  8. John O.

    “For more than 80 years, Social Security has helped secure today and tomorrow with financial benefits” is misleading. The Social Security Act was enacted on August 14, 1935, and began to tax wages in 1937. The first check was issued in 1940. Other aspects of the law also began around that time with employers of 8 or more people paying a small % into a Federal and State fund to provide for unemployment compensation but in the common vernacular of today people only think of SSA which has been paying benefits for 76 1/2 years not over 80 years.
    And elder abuse, it certainly exists and having dedicated a day for such awareness is nothing but bloviating. It is meaningless and it’s only intent is to deceive the masses to believe that governments care and will actually do something about it.

    • Chris

      Where are the families of these people John? Many of them are not miles and miles away and still their “loved ones” are neglected and allowed to be mistreated. Yet for the reading of the will they WILL find a way! SMH

  9. Sheridan L.

    The problem is so simple. We here in Sonoma County, CA have thousands of seniors sleeping on the street. We don’t care. Cuba, one of the poorest countries in South and central America has no homeless. There is free education, free housing, and free medical and it’s medical is the best in the hemisphere. We the richest country in world history has millions of homeless, whom Trump will put in uniforms, hobnail boots, clubs and side arms led by the KKK, American Nazi and White supremacist and tell them to go to it. They disenfranchised dispossessed have revenge on their minds.

    • John O.

      Oh, Cuba cares alright, the homeless are rounded up and put into camps. And your maniacal remarks about Mr. Trump just demonstrates how deluded some people are.

    • Mel P.

      We have somewhat the same problem, however, they have a choice because the city, state and federal govt. has provided money for housing and help. Many choose not too. Thank you ACLU, since most of these people have extreme mental issues and drug issues and can’t make sensible choices.

  10. Virginia K.

    How about an article in depth on neglect? If a senior is placed in assisted living and then neglected leaving them so depressed that they think of suicide is this not abuse.
    This is happening to my sister who is 2+ hours away from family that would visit and take her out for the day. Her daughter does not get her out. I would regularly if I where closer. She needs an eye doctor, new teeth, just so much and it doesn’t seem to matter and is not taken care of. If she where in my area I could do so much to make her happy. She does not deserve the life she is living, forgotten.

    • Diane K.

      Hi Virginia, the impact of neglecting seniors has touched my family, as well. My beloved grandparents chose to live in a part of the country that placed them hundreds of miles from their nearest relatives, more than fifty miles from the nearest hospitals, and thousands of miles from me. One morning, my grandfather, a large man and former marine in his 80’s, fell on his way to the restroom, in a relatively narrow hallway. My petite grandmother, also in her 80’s, could not reach around him to help him up and was not powerful enough to lift him herself… so she called for help. Upon seeing her and my grandfather’s plight, the emergency responders declared my grandmother “unfit” to care for my grandfather, dragged him, protesting loudly, from the house, and deposited him in a county hospital nearly 100 miles away. My grandmother was not permitted to accompany him. She called my, frantic, because she had no way of getting to the hospital. I flew across country, which took me most of a day, picked up my grandmother, and drove quickly to the hospital with her. We found my grandfather in a near coma, sitting slack-jawed in a wheelchair, in a room with about two dozen other people. He smelled foul. As I grasped his hand, I found it was shaking (uncharacteristic for him). He whispered that they would not take him to a restroom in my ear, gently. I asked the nurse at the desk outside, where the restroom was (there was none in the room). She asked me why I wanted to know. When she learned it was for my grandfather, she laughed and said he had a diaper on and had been bugging people about needing a restroom since he got there. In horror, I explained to her that my grandfather had never, in his life, soiled himself… and would not start now. She said: “Too bad.” I found the restroom, took him to it, then heard a thump behind the door. He had passed out. Later, we learned he had been holding his urine and bowels so long that his kidneys had shut down and his intestines were badly impacted. He died soon after. Neglect. One day of neglect. One day of lack of compassion by government employees. It killed my grandfather. I have other similarly horrific stories about my grandmother’s eventual hospitalization and that of my late, much love, step father. The only common factor in all three of their deaths was neglect by government employees and hospital personnel who BLINDLY followed protocols without an ounce of compassion or common sense. No matter how dedicated or vigilant our family was on behalf of our loved ones, the neglect by these strangers could not be prevented by us. They, in my opinion, murdered our loved ones through neglect, without out remorse or concern about their own accountability. As angry as I am about that, I hope they never have to suffer the same fate when they are old enough to do so because, if they do, we all will. I do what I can to speak on behalf of those who cannot in hospitals, but I am one voice. I wish there were others alongside mine. I feel very alone when I do. Am I being unreasonable when I call attention to situations like this? Those being brutally neglectful of seniors seem to think I should mind my own business…. but I did…. when I could…. for my own loved ones…. and it didn’t help. I don’t think calling attention to deaths that occur through neglect is unreasonable, do you?

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