Editorial Roundup: Alabama

Cullman Times. June 15, 2024.

Editorial: Elder abuse awareness is all in the family

Elder abuse is not a problem isolated to any one state, region or even country. So widespread is the concern that World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. This year, that date falls in mid-June.

The purpose of WEAAD, according to the official source in the United States at eldermistreatment.usc.edu, is to “provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.”

The need for that awareness is rampant, especially when it comes to finances.

Seniors are targets of scams because often they have amassed greater wealth over the duration of their lives, and health setbacks or the loss of a loved one can place them at an even greater risk of being taken advantage of — a risk that is rising. FBI estimates indicate that senior adults, those older than 60, lost $3.4 billion to scams in 2023. To date in Alabama this year, the Alabama Securities Commission has already received 215 reports of potential financial exploitation — a number that is a marked increase from the 159 reports in all of 2023 and 90 the year prior to that.

Because of this, the ASC is not only right to recognize June 15 as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, but to suggest that family members maintain healthy and productive relationships with senior adults, and most of all, pay attention to the signs that a senior may be a victim of financial or other abuse:

— Being in a vulnerable state of physical, mental, or emotional health due to sickness or loss of a loved one.

— Distancing themselves from existing relationships and starting new associations with apparent strangers.

— Having a new acquaintance in their life that shows a strong interest in their financial status and security.

— Being unable to speak with them directly, despite repeated attempts to contact them and/or someone is speaking on their behalf.

— Avoiding discussions involving finances or any expressed concerns.

The time to have a conversation about elder abuse with a senior family member or friend is before it happens. The ASC urges Alabamians to help educate their loved ones about the threat of elder financial exploitation to help prevent it from occurring. For legitimate education and fraud prevention materials, visit www.asc.alabama.gov.

And should you suspect elder financial or other abuse, know that you are not alone. Contact ASC at 800-222-1253.