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 www.ncea.aoa.gov for more information on how you can be involved.

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32 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..

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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!!

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

    • Hello Rochelle. Please be aware that our official agency responses will always include the Social Security Administration (SSA) seal. Thank you for your support and for using our blog.

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