To support World Elder Abuse Awareness Day which occurred June 15, BFSFCU is committed to promoting awareness about Elder Abuse, specifically the financial exploitation that may occur to the elderly, and ways to prevent it or intervene on behalf of a victim.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is the intentional act or failure to act by a caregiver or another person in a relationship
involving an expectation of trust that causes or creates a risk of harm to an older adult (typically
defined as age 60 or older).
It is hard to believe that anyone would want to deliberately harm an elderly person, but Elder Abuse and exploitation is a world-wide problem. According to the US Justice Department, “at least 10% of adults age 65 and older will experience some form of elder abuse in a given year”. Elder Abuse can encompass family members taking advantage of an elderly relative or grandparent or scammers targeting the elderly population because of their age.
Types of neglect and abuse include physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, caregiver neglect and financial exploitation and fraud. Financial exploitation is the most common form of abuse.
Why does Financial Exploitation of the elderly happen?
Generally speaking, elderly people have amassed more wealth than their younger counterparts. They are also susceptible to cognitive decline. This could be due to illness or disease, or just typical aging. Financial impairment is often one of the first pieces that elders may struggle to keep up with as they age. Fraudsters use elders unfamiliarity with new payment methods, systems, and topics to exploit them and to confuse them. Another reason why this happens is an elder’s propensity to trust. The elderly demographic tends to be more trusting of others as they were raised in a different time. It can make it hard for them to distinguish those who want to help from others that are malicious. Lastly, many elderly people live alone and may be homebound or isolated and fraudsters prey on that to develop a social connection to build trust.
Why is Elder Abuse awareness so important?
The elder needs advocates to recognize when abuse or exploitation may be happening. The elderly person
may not be in a place physically or mentally to express what is happening to them. This could be due to
an illness, or due to the fact that the person harming them may be a close relative or caregiver. The
elderly person may fear the repercussions if they rely on others for constant care or their daily
Seniors (and any vulnerable adults) deserve to feel safe and protected. It is important to be aware of what elder abuse is so that if you see something, say something. It reminds us to be compassionate to others and to speak up if we see or feel that something is not right.
How can you help?
To learn more about elder abuse, see the US Department of Justice website: About Elder Abuse | EJI | Department of Justice
To report suspected elder abuse, contact your local Adult Protective Services.