Below is a great article written by Dan Robinson of The Kenton Times about the recent Lunch and Learn at CHP Ada.
Elderly abuse is commonly seen to be a problem in urban areas, but people in Hardin County and surrounding communities see it on a regular basis as well.
“We see it happen all the time,” said Deb Curlis of Community Health Professionals. “It’s not always elderly people being beaten up. There are lots of things considered senior abuse.”
It is not unusual for the CHP staff to see situations where children drain their parents or grandparents financially, she said.
CHP partnered with Liberty National Bank to offer a Lunch and Learn program Thursday to teach bankers, social workers and the general public ways to see the signs of people taking advantage of senior citizens.
Ann Meiring is the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Area 3 Agency on Aging which covers seven counties, including Hardin.
She said while people are often made aware of child abuse cases, the mistreatment of the elderly is commonly called “the silent epidemic.”
Her agency is not only an advocate for the elderly, but connects them with services.
“We try to step in and see if there is something to do to remove barriers,” said Meiring. “We are trying to shine a light on a topic no one wants to talk about.”
Those services may be removing them from physically abusive situations, advising them on financial concerns or assisting them in finding the finances to buy groceries, said Meiring. Abuse could include physical, emotional, financial and her agency recently dealt with its first sexual abuse case.
She takes her message to community meetings, churches or banks to advise those people who work with the elderly how to spot signs of “any mistreatment or loss to an older person.”
With the aging of the Baby Boomer generation, the number of elderly is growing every day, she noted. Within the seven county area she covers, Meiring said, there were 3,400 cases of elderly abuse reported last year.
Only one in 14 cases is reported to authorities, said Meiring. Many times the victim refuses to take action against her family or caregiver out of fear of retaliation or disrupting the family. Most would rather endure the misery than cause issues, she told the group.
One man from this area, said Meiring, had gone to live with his son and daughter-in-law.
“They put Dad in a garage, gave him a bucket, a space heater and food. That was it,” said Meiring.
But by far the biggest type of elderly abuse is financial, said Meiring. Seniors hold most of the wealth in the country because they have saved all their lives. There are many methods for scamming people and the targets are often the elderly who have the funds. They also are generally the most trusting people in the community because they grew up in a more trusting time, she said.
“No one should ever be pressured to do anything with their own money,” she said.
There is the grandparent scam, in which a victim receives a call from the “grandchild” in trouble and needing cash assistance. The sweetheart scam is when a scam artist relies on the loneliness of an elderly victim to send money.
Home repair scams are common, she continued. A homeowner should never pay for work done at their house until it is completed to their satisfaction, said Meiring.
Tax scams have increased in recent years, she said.
“The IRS is not going to call you and threaten to put you in jail,” she said.
But when some trusting elderly victim goes along with the scam, they do so out of fear, said Meiring.
There are computer scams, lottery scams, and scams in which the con artist claims to be a rich person in another country seeking financial help.
Bank tellers should take notice if an elderly customer suddenly changes their banking habits with large withdrawals and report those situations to a family members or authorities.
Each county has a person in charge of Adult Protective Services. In Hardin County, that investigator is located in the Job and Family Services offices. The department’s telephone number is 419-675-1130.
“Protect yourself from financial exploitation.” Meiring advised the senior citizens in the group.
Check out charities who seek donations. Review bank statements on a regular basis. Make sure anyone who is given power of attorney who is given power of attorney has your best interest in mind, she said.
Meiring also encourage them to have a will.
“Wills and power-of-attorney documents are important to put in place before they are needed so they are set when things are emotional, said Meiring. “It is your money until the day you pass away. No one has a right to it but you.”