What You Can Do To Stop Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is a growing
issue across Wisconsin and the entire nation. Over the next two decades,
Wisconsin's 65 and older population will increase by 72 percent. In 2017, one
in nine seniors reported being abused, neglected, or exploited. Law
enforcement, advocacy groups, and Wisconsin's bankers are working together to
prevent financial exploitation of our state's seniors, and you can help, too!
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines elder financial abuse as
"the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an older individual's
resources by a caregiver or other person in a trusting relationship, for the
benefit of someone other than the older individual." Common examples
include forgery, misuse or theft of money or possessions, and use of coercion
or deception to surrender finances or property.
Keep a close watch on your elderly family members and
friends and look for signs such as unusual spending or withdrawal patterns,
frequent purchases of unusual or out-of-character items, unpaid bills and/or
utilities being turned off, or the presence of a new "best friend"
who is accepting generous "gifts" from the older adult.
Unfortunately, in most cases the abuser is someone the elderly person knows
and trusts. Many times the perpetrator is a family member. They may express
feeling that the elderly person's belongings are rightfully theirs. The abuser
may have financial difficulties such as a tendency to gamble. They may also
express fears that the victim will "use up" all of their savings and
deprive the perpetrator of an inheritance. Non-relatives may move from
community to community in order to avoid detection. They may also try to gain
access to elderly persons by masquerading as a counselor or by finding a job as
Elderly persons who are
most at risk are lonely, isolated, unfamiliar with financial matters, and may
have lost someone recently or have mental or physical disabilities.
By using the information above to identify
possible elder financial and reporting it to the authorities, you can help stop
or prevent this injustice.