World Elder Abuse Awareness Day takes place on June 15th. BFSFCU is committed to promoting
awareness about Elder Abuse and specifically, the financial exploitation that could occur to
the elderly population. BFSFCU strives to provide ways to both prevent elder abuse and to
intervene on behalf of the 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).
Common Scams that Target the Elderly
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 needs.
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?
Keep an eye out! Do you have an elderly relative, friend, or neighbor that you are close to
or acquainted with? Check in on them! This is especially true when the elderly person has gone
through a major change such as losing a spouse or partner and suddenly living alone, a recent
retirement, or experiencing an illness, disease, or loss of independence. The best way to
prevent abuse is to visit, call, and to be a resource and advocate to those in the elderly
demographic. By keeping the elder engaged with friends, neighbors, and their communities, we can
prevent potential abuse or isolation.
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.