Teaming Up to Prevent Elder Abuse

elder abuse awarenessElder abuse is an epidemic. Unfortunately, statistics show that the number of older Americans physically, mentally and financially exploited is rising.

According to a study released by the American Journal of Public Health in 2010, approximately five million elderly Americans are victims of abuse. This exceeds the number of domestic violence and child abuse victims combined. Social Security beneficiaries are included in the millions who suffer sometimes physical, emotional, and financial abuse, as well as neglect of basic care and medical needs.

Statistics also indicate that most reported cases involve family members or people closely related to the victims. Many elder abuse victims suffer from decreased cognitive capacity, such as dementia, and are not able to protect themselves. Adult protective services operate under state law to investigate reports of elder abuse and to work with the victims to protect them and stop the maltreatment.

It is important that adult protective services agencies in every community have a close working relationship with Social Security to:

  • Remove abusive representative payees;
  • Prevent unsuitable representative payees from being put in place or being re-instated, and;
  • Appoint appropriate representative payees who will protect the victim’s benefits.

Social Security is with you through life’s journey. The agency takes this commitment seriously. Under Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin and Chief of Staff Stacy Rodgers, Social Security has made great strides in a short time to protect beneficiaries from financial exploitation and to coordinate with adult protective services agencies on behalf of our mutual clients. You can help too by visiting the Administration for Community Living and for more information on how you can be involved.


49 thoughts on “Teaming Up to Prevent Elder Abuse

  1. Hello, I want to know how does a family member can find out if an elderly relative or friend is being abused in an elderly care center, especially one that is designed to care for elderly patients suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or/and other forms of dementia? My sister now has to live in a residential memory care center, but I live 100 miles away from her residential care center, and I, too, am elderly, 74 years old, so I can’t drive 100 miles to a huge city to visit her frequently. If the elderly patient cannot communicate his or her feelings, desires, needs, or ideas, how can a family member or friend know if that patient is being well treated by the facility’s staff? Are there specific guidelines to follow and signs to look for? Should the family member or friend ask to see the elderly patient’s arms, legs, body uncovered? Should we ask to be shown the financial records on our family member? What rights does the inquiring family member or friend have to look into the medical care of their elderly family member or friend who is dependent upon a 24-hour residential care facility’s actions and records? This is an important issue that needs to be addressed to help family members or friends know how to discover mental, physical, or financial abuse or exploitation being enacted upon our elderly family member or friend..

    • Becky, I’ve read of cases where concerned relatives have brought hidden cameras. For instance, in a vase of plants, into the rooms of their parents, and recorded mistreatment; actually, the footage was pretty disturbing…old people being slapped around by staff, etc.

      Of course, you would never let on that you were doing anything like this, and if possible get a camera that would stream the footage to somewhere beyond the reach of the facility, in case they discovered it. And, I wouldn’t divulge the method, even after a case was filed, as that would enable the offenders to correct for that possibility and avoid it in future. Sort of like a military force pre-announcing its plan of attack; naturally, the enemy would be set up and waiting, in advance. And make no mistake, anyone doing this kind of thing IS an enemy, and deserves whatever punishment the law provides for, and probably more. Good luck to you..

    • Es hora de comenzar a exigir a las iglesias de todas las denominaciones, que dejen de estar haciendo relaciones públicas, mande a su gente a trabajar y supervisar a la gente que sufre, y se pongan a trabajar en hospitales y geriátricos. Antes cuando uno entraba a un hospital o geriátrico, lo primero que se encontraba era con monjas. Ahora no solo que se cortaron sus vestidos sino, que desaparecieron de esos lugares y están de fiestas en las escuelas. Una verdadera vergüenza.

    • My mom had Alzheimer’s Diseaw for 13 years. We tried to always keep her with us but that became an impossibility that always saddens me.
      What I can share are somethings I’ve not heard spoken of much. Alzheiner’s patients do have ways to convey information. If there is someone that can visit regularly weekly perhaps or even less frequently if need be, but those afflicted know the difference between love (kindness) and those who don’t care, are mean and even harmful. Watch the reactions over time, responses of those who may seem sweet in the prescence of a friend or family member will be noticible over a few times as comparisons to different care givers is noted. Also, look to see how other patients/reidents respond to care givers. The signs can become quite evidenced unfortunately. Once something is noted, when in a quite safe area maybe whipe reading a book to them and after a suspected person has been around acting nice and the patient isn’t just having an off day but similar behaviors observed a few times say something like, i get the feeling maybe that person isn’t always nice like they were just acting. Even those with minimal communication abilities can & do find ways of communicating abuses. Those who are kind one will observe a tendency to relax and be receptive to the help offered. It is in resistence that I was able to observe some things happening. If there is no one see if social services can visit or find a volunteer to sit with your loved one frim time to time. These people are pretty receptive to what’s going on. I’m sorry your living the sadness of your sister’s disease. Write her large letter, colorful paper notes or send a couple photos or a flower calender and ask for ther to be near her viewing space. Have this checked. Sticking stuff in a drawer where it will never be seen is a sign of lack of care or concern. People with Alzheimer’s have trouble seeing/differentiating colors so bright contrasts in rooms, dining areas show someone is paying attention. Blessings to you and your sister. Katie

      • visit at different times during the day. Don’t tell them you are going to visit. try that I lived in n.h. for over ten years. They have their own cameras and will work with them.

  2. I am trapped in a seemingly endless trap with Bank Of America. True I have initiated overdraft charges by writing checks before the money is in there, or by having automatic withdrawals take place when I don’t have enough funds. But the $35 fee for even being a couple $’s over, and then additional fees when it is over a week etc. are just overwheliming. I have bad credit and cannot go to another bank. I have had fees over $200 – $300 the past two months, and they are unwilling to work with me. What can I do?

    • Bank of America is NOTORIOUS for doing that. They got me like that years ago, by adding fee on top of fee. If you are struggling to pay them, in the first place, hose can you pay MORE to catch up? It doesn’t make sense. I will have NOTHING TO DO with Bank of America.

    • The only banks that are safer in this planet nowadays are the international banks. Try Citibank or any other that is international. The national banks are having a lot of problems all over the world and are technically far behind on schedule with the international entities.

    • Find a local credit union. B of A exists to make profits for share holders and will find creative ways to separate you from your money. A credit union is owned by and serves its members.

      • Ditto on using a credit union. I’ve used the same credit union in our town for years. They are more willing to waive fees as well.

  3. The United States Government is guilty of “ELDER ABUSE”…..They steal from OUR Social Security, that WE paid into; then they don’t even have the decency to give us a C.O.L.A. It’s disgusting !!! We work all our lives and contribute to Soc. Sec. only to have our government steal our savings. They need to pay back the trillions of dollars they STOLE from us, so that S.S. will be solvent once again. Some of us depend on that to survive. The cost of living goes up 10% and we get a measly 1.4 % increase. That is WHEN we get one. They said the cost of living didn’t go up in 2015. That is a bunch of crap. They said fuel prices are down. ANOTHER bunch of crap. Fuel isn’t the only cost of living. They obviously don’t go to the grocery store or have their vehicles repaired or pay rent. If they do, they use OUR money and that is why Soc. Sec. is rapidly becoming insolvent. SHAME on the U.S. Government.

    • Unfortunately, this post is all too typical of well-founded unhappiness. When you see “the government” as a single entity, you are actually contributing to the problem not getting fixed. The agency has to do what Congress and the courts order, along with any initiatives ordered by the executive branch. Congress determines what measurements are used in a COLA. One party is looking to use an even more restrictive set of measurements which would normally make it worse. In addition, Congress has used the SSA surpluses to disguise higher deficits and now must pay back the trust funds. And yet, because people complain without critical thinking about “the government” they keep electing the same people (or ones who want to cut these programs) into Congress. You have the right to complain or you have the right to fix the problem. If you choose to complain and dismiss the government, nothing will get fixed and you will get even more practice complaining. Write your Congressman and Senator. Organize around issues important to you and speak with many voices rather than one. Do your own thinking and stop allowing yourself to be manipulated by anger into supporting people who do NOT have your interests at heart.

    • Its not the American Govt., is the guy WHO is in charge for the last 7 yrs.
      But if it wasn’t for the constitution, he’ll run again & the stupid american public will vote for his nonsense post………….
      Have a good day.

  4. The biggest problem is stemming from SSA!!! Benefits are being taken away from them and therefore creating financial, emotional and neglect due to no outlets! These people who really have multiple disability’s can’t work…… Fix this and half the problem of senior and elderly ABUSE STOPS!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I had to read the comment twice.
      What is the problem with your thinking? Because you feel that you are entitled to your family members
      money, because yours is getting cut back? So that is why you abuse a family member. This is a situation that the goverment needs to address now .protect the elder . Lannie Eynn

  5. One of the biggest financial abuses of the elderly are relatives asking them for money. A very elderly person can not say no, they fear loss of affection. This is very common and should be discussed a lot more often.

    • You hit it right on Madam, I have a daughter just like it, due to that I can’t see my grand children for many yrs.
      God bless her.

  6. This article should be required reading for the Social Security Office in St.Petersburg, FL.In spite of their assurance that my elderly brother’s embezzled monies would be returned, and that the representative payee at
    his former ALF in Houston TX would be removed from his direct deposit bank account, they have not done so, and the clerk who handled this transaction in FL, where my brother now resides, cannot be reached by phone. Time to travel there- AGAIN- and to find a supervisor who WILL ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING to restore my brother’s desperately needed funds.

  7. I recently got a call from someone posing to be the Medicare Help Center. They started to go in to the spiel of something & when I asked them how come they didn’t know which member of our house was on Medicare, they hung up on me. Hmmmmm…. It was a local call too.

    • scott church did WONDERS for PT8. he actually knew what end-users wants, he listened with open ears. avid decided to hire a bunch of non-industry suits to take over powerful management positions, and their no-kmsic-unowing bafoonery is starting to show whats up.

  8. One problem is that the politicians who having been career politicians because lack of laws to regulate how many terms they can run for is not limited. They have become experts in the art of running as a figure of public issues. Just posting thousands of slogans all over there district and a person who votes in there district only during Presidential elections when other candidates with in the district running for office people are not as informed and usually remember names on posters that ring a bell. This being the strategy of placing there picture and name in bold view for easy subconscious readable posters. And when voting the most and best looking colors actually set off a alarm while in voting booth among names. Psychology classes teach this in ad advertising. One thing that would help is putting term limits for all federal, state and local positions just like the President. It would put pressure on the local District elections for candidates to have to have town debates and getting the candidates out to let people get to know them and what they stand for. And spend less time in Washington D.C. doing nothing but padding there pockets by lobbyist on what ear mark to vote for.

  9. I am a 90 year old World War II Marine Corps vet & cancer survivor. I live alone in low rent housing. Many of the tenants are mentally unstable. I person below me is obviously psychotic. He has been harassing continually since I moved in a year ago. It began the day I moved in this big 62 year old came & shouted at the movers pushing them about and causing them to drop a heavy box of book. Since then he pounds on my door several times a night in the wee house of the morning when I am sound asleep having taken medications for insomnia. He accuses me of making noise. He has called the cops seven times & not seeming very bright take his side.they take his side.
    May 28th he again pounded on my door at 1 a.m. then phoned the cops and said I’d threatened him with a knife. I had not. Three police rang my door bell the following day in a combat mode with their hands on their tazers. If I’d been feeble minded as many my age are, the John Wayne cowboys would have surely shot me in the chest, killing me. Not wanting them to loiter out side and frighten my neighbors who are mostly mentally unstable I asked them in. As the officer in charge edged me into a corner of the living room, his colleagues began rummaging about. I told them that they had no search warrant and were violating me civil liberties. Then the officer brought in two social psychologist. They started asking me inane questions such what day of the week was it and what was my name and such. They treated me as though I were an imbecile. That night my chest began palpitating and believing I was having a stroke, I took a taxi to a hospital emergency and was kept there from 3 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. running a series of tests. The doctor informed me that my heart seemed okay , but I’d had a very bad fright. I am being stonewalled at the police station. After going there there three times they finally gave me my police reports which the police officer had blacked out the most useful information. The lawyer at legal aid won’t help me get a restraining order. She did phone the apartment complex and the manager told her that she offered to move the culprit and he refused. That exonerates me. A social worker spoke with the culprit the other day and he said he was in conflict with the tenant next to him. I want my police report uncensored so I can press charges against the culprit and the police. My blood pressure is unnaturally high, 178/101. I should charge attempted involuntary manslaughter.

    • I just clicked on the above http://……….
      It is a website for a law firm in TX. WHY would you do that, Bruce? Yes, elder abuse is a serious problem, but we don’t need “shark” lawyers to charge us and/or families to protect us. The Elder Ombudsman w/the State Attorney General’s is supposed to do that! That site is a “click and pay” site. DON’T go there!!

  10. I need protection and please don’t advise me to call the cops. Those John Wayne cowboys are part of the problem. They have take the side of the culprit, who very obvious psychotic. I need a restraining order as well as a court order against the cops. The 62 yr old culprit has been continually harassing this 90 yr old World War II Marine Corps vet and cancer survivor for a year. He began the day I moved in shouting and shoving the movers causing them to drop a box of book. I need a restraining order and a court order for criminal intent but no one will help. The lawyers at Legal Aid won’t. The police finally gave me my police report but it was censored. All the significant data was blocked out.

  11. I feel the worst abuse of the elderly is from doctors and the medical profession. You cant be treated for an illness if they wont diagnose. They wont give you drugs if they can find a way not to. They wont treat the elderly by claiming they are too old. They act like they never heard of your symptoms They say it is so unknown they will have to name the symptom after you. They tell you to keep an eye on that lump and if it starts to pain or other symptoms arise let them know but by then it is usually too late. Now they don’t want to give you certain drugs if you choose to use medical cannabis. If you ever smoked it goes right into your re cord as COPD and that limits your types of drugs evn if you have no breathing problems. They use different criteria in different locales if they have too many elderly. They don’t have highly trained doctors for PCP only for the actual surgeons in the emergency room and operating rooms. They wont use approved drugs to help diagnose a symptom when you are aged.

  12. I think that a law should be passed that requires cameras in a residents room in nursing homes, assisted living places, etc in any facility where older persons are involved. Also cameras in the hallways and other common areas where they navigate and are cared for, even in shower areas! However not in private or public bathrooms in such facilities obviously. The cameras should be monitored by private companies not government related and not profit driven however there should be a type of payment for every violation caught on camera resulting in investigation confirmation and criminal charges against the person or persons involved. The payment should be made by the facility itself with part of it going to the resident as compensation for having been a victim and the remaining payment to the monitoring company. In addition the company should pay a certain percentage to the person who caught the violation, sort of a reward fee as you will, for catching and reporting a violation as an incentive for that employee to continue working for a long time you want to keep good quality employees who have a genuine concern and passion for such a program.
    Anyway there is a lot more to such an idea as this and a lot of things to issue out but wouldnt this be a good place to start? My mother died in a nursing care home just a couple of weeks before she was to come home by an accidental overdose of medication then it was covered up by the staff leaving no proof what really happened the only reason I know is from the nurse who called me and admitted what happened before realizing what she was saying. I have no way to undo this injustice for my mother but I can try and do something in her name to prevent further mistakes happening to others. These people worked hard all their lives so other people could have a better life and they should get the quality of life for themselves for once they earned it and deserve it dont you think?

  13. I can not believe that the SSA would actually use a pseudonym “Uncle Buck Ofama” on their website to answer a question about elder abuse. I feel that is inappropriate.

  14. My name is Victor Wilfong. My Mom Judie Wilfong receives Social Security and a young lady that’s been helping take care of her , We have now found out she HAS possession of my Mom’s as card and mg Mom’s bills are not being paid, LIGHTS turned off ETC, My mom had 2 strokes and Dementia. This lady is robbing my Mom. I am my Mom’s only child. I m 45 years of age , My Mom is 70. Please help or advise me where I can get help. She is being abused all the way around.

    • Hello Victor, if you suspect misuse of Social Security benefits, report it. Please call 1-800-772-1213 Monday through Friday, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to speak to one of our representatives. Or, you can contact your local Social Security office. Thanks!

  15. Okay. I’m writing here because it will take a short time (about an hour and 20 minutes, so says the annoying voice on the tape) and I do not have the time to wait. I know that SS doesn’t call people, but i got about 7 calls today from a scam company that said, in short, that there were certain claims against my SS# and that they could help me before I was arrested. I know that this is a lot of bull, but I AM SURE THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO DO NOT KNOW THIS. THE VOICE ON THE LINE INTRODUCED HIMSELF AS A POLICE OFFICER. They gave a number to call for help. This is the number:1-419-405-1856. I intend to call the no call line for which I signed up years ago and which seems to have died on the vine. I feel, however that you folks at SS are probably better able to handle these scamming creeps so I wanted to let you know. It is also a pain to call you as one has to deal with that moronic tape of yours and a wait time that is nothing short of ridiculous. Okay, that’s it. Hope you can deal with these cruds. Have a happy holiday.

  16. I have report Financial Elder Abuse to the local Social Services and they don’t seem to agree or find any issues even when I provided them Banking Statements showing charges made to my Mother’s account for services she does not have. My sister is her Financial POA and I have no doubt she is Financially abusing my Mother’s Social Security funds. Should I take this issue to the local Social Security office? Do they investigate these types or issues or send it to Social Services for review? Thank you and help / guidance you can give me.

    • Hi Herbert, thank you for using our blog. If your sister is your mother’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 mother’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 mother does not have a representative payee, it may benefit her to have one appointed. Go to our Representative Payee web page for additional details.
      Please call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. to speak to one of our representatives or you can contact your local Social Security office.

  17. I am 73, disabled, live alone in Thailand but I’m a US citizen by birth, retired in Thailand with a guy ….my “BROTHER IN CHRIST” he calls himself, managing and controlling my Soc. Sec. Benefits AND property in the states …..he ripped me off good. Stole everything he could get his hands on ….thus in the past 7 months, I have sent out 11 very expensive registered letters telling of this creep diverting and cutting off my access to my Soc. Sec, Benefits and leaving me for dead without my own money for food and medical to the Soc, Sec, Adm Inspector General’s Office and not one reply ….damnit why don’t you people stop the fraud when we elders tell you about it???? That’s my money this monster embezzled …the lights are on at S.S. Adm but no one is home!

  18. The City of Fresno, California has a very bad system, we are poorly rated on for safety at 07/100 and showes that most of our schools are underperforming with too many 1/10 or something below a 4/10. We really need someone to audit the entire town, taking into account expansion of services for the homeless, because it hasn’t kept pace with population growth. Our hospitals are also very bad, we need a complete overhaul.

  19. My Mother Ethel Powell, Lives with my sister in Georgia. Her name is Cindy Phillips and her daughter Brittany Gibbons. My mother is 77 yrs old. She has a nice vehicle which they use and took hers keys from my mother. They both use her debit card to take money out for there self. She doesn’t know were her card is. She recently had a stroke and was hospitalized. I spoke with her over the phone. She told me they just buy her cigarettes. She didn’t know who had her card. She also has bedsores and head lice. Her granddaughter Brittany drives her vehicle back and forth from Ga. to Fl. My brother and I tried to get her to go in to assisted living. But my sister sad know. She is left alone for days and sometimes weeks by herself. We can’t talk to her because my sister took her cell phone. My sister and her daughter take street drugs. Cindy was arrested for dui and drug possession last October in my mothers car. I don’t speak to my sister she is so jealous of anyone talking to her and total unreasonable. I am concerned they are not paying my mother’s bills and health insurance. I would appreciate if someone could check on who is with drawing her money from her account. Thank you.She has 5 children but Cindy will not let us see her or talk to her.

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