June is widely known as Elder Abuse Awareness Month. But here at Senior Safe & Sound, it’s always time for awareness, recognition and prevention of harm against our older, more vulnerable loved ones.

As President Joe Biden said for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, “All of us have a role to play in preventing elder abuse and ensuring that our Nation’s seniors are able to age with dignity.”

Elder abuse against an individual, or possibly involving multiple victims, will continue if nobody intervenes. So it’s important to report abuse – even if you’re not sure but suspect there’s abuse. Sometimes, it is hard to tell, so it’s best to let the experts help.

Recognize the types of elder abuse

Elder abuse comes in several different forms. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, at least 10% of adults age 65 and older will experience some form of abuse in a given year. Some experience more than one type of abuse. Types of abuse include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional or psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Caregiver neglect
  • Financial fraud and exploitation
  • Scams

Some of the common signs to look for are:

  • Unexplained or frequent injuries
  • Uncharacteristic behavior such as withdrawal
  • Bloody or torn clothing
  • Weight loss
  • Unnecessary financial transactions
  • Unpaid bills
  • Unexplained account withdrawals or sudden changes in financial condition

Abuse can be committed by strangers, professional caregivers, family, friends and neighbors. Abusers rely on trust or dependence by the seniors to have the access and ability to commit crimes. If dementia sets in, the senior may be even more vulnerable.

Where to report elder abuse

If someone is in immediate danger, call 911. If you suspect abuse has been ongoing, start by calling your local police department or district attorney. You may also contact:

  • Adult Protective Services: The National Center on Elder Abuse lists the state offices, as well as a variety of other helpful resources and hotlines for every state.
  • Social Security Administration: If you suspect your loved one’s Social Security income is being misused, contact your local Social Security office or call 1.800.269.0271.
  • Federal Trade Commission: If somebody has been scamming the senior, report financial fraud to the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Long-term care ombudsman: If the abuse is occurring at a senior care facility, notify the long-term care ombudsman in your state. The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care has a list of state ombudsmen and other resources.
  • Healthcare professionals: Some states, such as California, require health practitioners and others who are responsible for the care of seniors to report suspected abuse to law enforcement.
  • Financial institutions: If you suspect financial abuse is occurring, alert the elder’s banks, investment broker and financial advisors. They can put safeguards and monitors in place.

For more information about avoiding common types of scams and elder abuse, Senior Safe and Sound is here to help. Email us at info@SeniorSafeAndSound.org for more information.

This information is intended to inform the public at large about this important issue. It is not intended to serve as legal or medical advice.