Learn the Signs, Help Prevent Elder Abuse

WEADDFor more than 80 years, Social Security has helped secure today and tomorrow with financial benefits, information, and tools that provide a safety net throughout life’s journey.

June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, a day that reminds us how important it is to protect seniors in our communities.

Each year, millions of elderly adults are abused, neglected, or are financially exploited.  Often they are taken advantage of by those they trust and rely upon for assistance. According to the Administration on Aging, elders throughout the country lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually as a result of financial abuse and exploitation. Countries across the world observe World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to bring awareness to this epidemic.

It is critical, especially for public servants, that we do our part to protect seniors and other vulnerable persons who are at risk of financial exploitation. In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I ask that you take time to learn the signs of elder abuse and neglect so that you will recognize them in the future. This will go a long way toward not only preventing abuse of those we serve, but also possibly preventing your loved ones from becoming victims.  Over the years, I have learned of heartbreaking cases of seniors who have lost their life’s savings as a result of deceptive scams and unscrupulous individuals.  We must work diligently to prevent such unthinkable acts.

On June 16, the second World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Global Summit will be held. It is a day of collaboration with national policy makers, advocates, financial services institutions, media, social services organizations and members of the public. I will share the many steps we have taken to raise awareness and to prevent the incidence of financial exploitation.

There is so much to learn about this issue. I encourage you to visit the Administration for Community Living and www.ncea.aoa.gov for more information. As we increase our awareness, each of us can become more proactive in our efforts to protect elderly adults in our communities and families.

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51 thoughts on “Learn the Signs, Help Prevent Elder Abuse

    • Thank you! Your thoughts are important to us and we’re pleased when feedback is positive.

      • Hey Ray, do ‘you’ (as ‘us’, the Social Security Administration) ONLY appreciate positive feedback? Would you rather not hear about situations whereby this information was NOT helpful? Is that your role? To thank the people who say nice things about your organization and blatantly ignore those who share uncomfortable truths which indicate the systems in place are not working? How much are ‘we’ (the tax payers) paying for you to do that? Because if that is all we’re getting for our money… I’d rather it not be spent that way.

  1. We are encouraged to learn the signs of elder abuse. You should have listed things to watch for in this communication to help people be more aware of what to look for and what could be happening to a family member or acquaintance.

  2. I think my mother finances may
    Be used by her daughter that is her power of attorney. She won’t release any of mom’s bank statements. By request of attorney.

    • Hi Joyce – Be persistent. Get your own legal aid on behalf of your mother. I agree with curt. Keep trying.

    • If you know the bank you can ask them to report financial abuse to the Dept of Economic Securiity. If it meets the criteria they will then open a case with Adult Protective Services and it will be investigated.

  3. Might I suggest that you give us a little more notice in future years…like 30 days…? So that we know this day is coming up, soon. Also, a concise but detailed explanation of what is EA and who can do it, because it seems the term is mis-used due lack of knowledge of facts … and given the imagination and creativity of people who want to help, the waters are muddied by all these alleged EA actions which do not really qualify. Thank you. jb

  4. Thank you so much for this info. I live in a senior apartment complex and I believe there Is a resident that is abused by her 2 children. Not a lot, but enough. We’ve talked about it but she lets it happen.

    • Hi Kat – I believe this is an underlying root cause for elder abuse, just as it is for domestic violence. The relationships are complicated. The emotions rule over what might seem most sensible. Why do seniors let others abuse them without calling for help? Why does anybody stay in a harmful relationship? Because they love the people doing the abuse and do not want them to be harmed, despite their own suffering. Because they are in denial that somebody they love, somebody they thought they would always be able to trust, has harmed them… and continues to do so. Because they are embarrassed about not having seen it coming, about being such a poor judge of character, about giving their hearts (and money) to the wrong people, about not being able to defend themselves. Because they think they’ll be smart enough or strong enough to defend themselves more effectively the next time. Because they can’t believe the systems in place to protect them, systems they’ve been taught WOULD protect them, have failed so miserably. Because they have faith that everything bad thing in life happens for a good reason. Because they think, or hope, their abusers will change… and were, perhaps, just having bad days before. I was the kind of person who walked away from a seven year relationship after being physically abused by my spouse just once…. but not everybody is like that. My late sister stayed with a man who broke her bones over and over and over again. She loved him to the end. Why do people let others abuse them? It is a question that has many conflicting and complex responses. All of that being said, knowing that a person is being abused by another, is no excuse for silent witness. I am glad you spoke up about your concern here. I hope you will keep talking with the resident in your complex who is being abused… and I hope you will reach out to others who may be able to help your fellow resident deal with this situation more effectively… or help prevent her further abuse by her 2 children. The pain of seeing a person be brutalized or robbed is, in my opinion, a crime against the witnesses as much as it is against the person brutalized or robbed in many respects. It is why those who survive or witness mass shootings are offered counseling. The witnesses have been harmed, emotionally, psychologically and, because of the way our thoughts impact our bodies, physically, too. Helping to prevent abuse of somebody you have seen is being abused is, in this regard, also self-defense, isn’t it?

  5. Ms. Rogers, from personal experience, on behalf of my mother, who was physically abused and forced from her own home by my nephew (her only grandson), and has been staying with me to recover her health, as well as for her safety, I can tell you that society does NOTHING of ANY substance to address the issue of ELDER ABUSE. NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Well…. actually…. society penalizes the victim and rewards the abuser. I can certainly bear witness to that. My mother is continuing to pay mortgage to avoid losing her equity, for a house she will likely NEVER be able to return to without endangering her life. Lawyers want more money than she can pay to take complex and lengthy legal action against her grandson, with no assurance of an outcome in favor of my mother. My mother does not want to sell her home, but several realtors have been pushing her to sell at pricing that would leave her homeless AND penniless. Social Services will take NO action because there are occasionally small children involved, my mother’s great grandchildren, whom her grandson uses as human shields against society (for instance, to prevent utilities he cannot pay for from being shut off). Police say they cannot remove this thug from my mother’s home because she, understandably, had invited him, as her only grandson, into her home AS A GUEST. Even when they were called to the home, immediately after she been physically assaulted by her grandson, the police said they would have had to “catch him in the act” of physically assaulting my mother to justify arresting him. Instead, they tried to “reason with him” to let her back into her OWN home while she stood crying, injured and in shock in her OWN driveway. She had to walk away from her home and everything she had ever owned, because our laws protect the violent thugs, like my nephew, and say “If you “REALLY” fear for your safety, it is up to YOU (the victim) to remove yourself from harm’s way”. She lived in her car with her little dog, refusing to reveal her situation or ask for help from me or anybody else, out of embarrassment that she had been powerless to keep her home, that she had been assaulted and stolen from by a family member she thought she could trust, and out of what little sense of personal pride she had left, until she became too ill to continue doing so. SO…. LISTEN CAREFULLY….. THERE IS NOTHING ANYBODY IN SOCIETY COULD DO TO PREVENT OR STOP ELDER ABUSE, EVEN IF THEY WANTED TO. Believe me, I’ve tried. She has tried. It has been nearly three years since she was forced from her home, three years of her trying to help herself and three years of me trying to help her. She has spent days going from window to window in courthouses, coming away with volumes of paperwork peppered with legalese and classical Latin to fill out. Days upon days of phoning and visiting so-called “advocates” that passed her from one to another until she had come, repeatedly, full circle… and was told there was nothing that could be done to help her. So what good does “knowing the signs of elder abuse” DO? NONE for the victims. NADA. ZIP. ZILCH. It is up to those who care about our elders to take personal action. It is up to those of us who can to provide shelter to do so. It is up to us to pay legal fees on their behalf, if we can afford to. It is up to us to confront the thugs doing harm. It is up to us to step in and stop the abuse, personally, at risk of OUR OWN personal harm. Maybe, while we do that, some decent soul will capture it on film and call the police to witness it and, therefore, justify an arrest. Maybe some decent soul will capture it in a video and publish it on every social media site they can find to do so. It is only when the evidence of how much and how often and by whom this atrocity is being committed that we may be able to create change in society. At the very least, those of us who DO take action, will begin to be able to provide moral support to each other. Social programs? Pfffffffffffffft! At least “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day” gave me this chance to share this with you. Otherwise, that’s about it. I worry for all of us as we, the Baby Boomers, become elders ourselves. I worry for myself.

    • I’ve been in the real estate business. If the home is truly your mothers, check your state statutes. There will be a provision or rule in there that describes how to evict. Use a no-cause notice of termination of vacancy (or whatever they call it in your state). If the notice rules are scrupulously followed, you could have this “gent” out in about 30 days. And the sheriff will help you, as long as you have properly served notice and the thug is still there. They will escort them out. Then, change all locks and get a simple security system. If you give a reason, it opens the door to the “tenant” fighting you in court.

      • Thank you, however, it is truly her home. Also, to take action against him as a “tenant” DOES give him an opportunity to claim “renter’s rights” in California… and he is NOT a renter. He does NOT pay rent. Also, beginning proceedings against him as a “Tenant” would make my mother liable as a “Landlord”… which she surely is NOT…. and all of the applicable tax liabilities associated with that. We are stuck between a rock and hard place. We have looked into these potential actions, in depth.

    • Diane K., Your story gave me chills in recalling similar BS that my wife and I lived in care giving her father after heart surgery/stroke. The story is long and painful. My concern is for your mental state in years to come. We live in a world of depression and PTSD with Dr. care/meds. The bastard has convinced all family members that we were the ‘bandits’, as he is. We are outcasts today and guess that we lost $70K. plus. Forgive and forget, closure?…, no such things. Please take care of YOU! How? No clue. Good Luck.

      • Thank you for the empathy, Curt. Sorry to hear of your family’s similar suffering. It is truly epidemic, yet so few seem to speak out (or are able to speak out). I gave up counting how much this has cost my mother and I. I suspect it is well into six figures by now. It took my mother over a year to stop crying. As you can probably tell, I am still angry. But, the good news is, we have forged a stronger bond. I helped my mother resume a long loved hobby (oil painting). I am building a new business from my home (I’m an engineer). We are coping pretty well and help each other tap our stores of resilience every day. It is unfortunate we need to. I wish you well and encourage you to continue seeking solutions. It is why I posted this information. Perhaps people who write things like this post for the government know where the help is that we have not yet been able to find and will reach out to us. Otherwise, we can at least provide enough information to let you, and others like us, know we are not alone and offer a few kind words of support.

        • In her will I would make sure that she leaves the house to whomever she wants to. He will have to find elsewhere to live then!

  6. “World Elder Abuse Awareness Day”. It’s a very important theme in our country, unfortunately we seen at first hand how our elderlies people are abuse for their families, friend, and care givers too. Many cases are reporting to the authorities, but the investigations have a long time, and the elderlies are abused a long time more.
    There are many “Rent Complex for Elderlies”, that the people suffer abuse for the employees, and manager too. When the elder people can’t life in a Rent Complex normal, or with independent living, which means that it’s contradictory for people with disability mental or physic complete, that we observe frequently.

    I believe that the authorities that works with this people, most be observe this type of cases on the ground.

  7. How about an article in depth on neglect? If a senior is placed in assisted living and then neglected leaving them so depressed that they think of suicide is this not abuse.
    This is happening to my sister who is 2+ hours away from family that would visit and take her out for the day. Her daughter does not get her out. I would regularly if I where closer. She needs an eye doctor, new teeth, just so much and it doesn’t seem to matter and is not taken care of. If she where in my area I could do so much to make her happy. She does not deserve the life she is living, forgotten.

    • Hi Virginia, the impact of neglecting seniors has touched my family, as well. My beloved grandparents chose to live in a part of the country that placed them hundreds of miles from their nearest relatives, more than fifty miles from the nearest hospitals, and thousands of miles from me. One morning, my grandfather, a large man and former marine in his 80’s, fell on his way to the restroom, in a relatively narrow hallway. My petite grandmother, also in her 80’s, could not reach around him to help him up and was not powerful enough to lift him herself… so she called for help. Upon seeing her and my grandfather’s plight, the emergency responders declared my grandmother “unfit” to care for my grandfather, dragged him, protesting loudly, from the house, and deposited him in a county hospital nearly 100 miles away. My grandmother was not permitted to accompany him. She called my, frantic, because she had no way of getting to the hospital. I flew across country, which took me most of a day, picked up my grandmother, and drove quickly to the hospital with her. We found my grandfather in a near coma, sitting slack-jawed in a wheelchair, in a room with about two dozen other people. He smelled foul. As I grasped his hand, I found it was shaking (uncharacteristic for him). He whispered that they would not take him to a restroom in my ear, gently. I asked the nurse at the desk outside, where the restroom was (there was none in the room). She asked me why I wanted to know. When she learned it was for my grandfather, she laughed and said he had a diaper on and had been bugging people about needing a restroom since he got there. In horror, I explained to her that my grandfather had never, in his life, soiled himself… and would not start now. She said: “Too bad.” I found the restroom, took him to it, then heard a thump behind the door. He had passed out. Later, we learned he had been holding his urine and bowels so long that his kidneys had shut down and his intestines were badly impacted. He died soon after. Neglect. One day of neglect. One day of lack of compassion by government employees. It killed my grandfather. I have other similarly horrific stories about my grandmother’s eventual hospitalization and that of my late, much love, step father. The only common factor in all three of their deaths was neglect by government employees and hospital personnel who BLINDLY followed protocols without an ounce of compassion or common sense. No matter how dedicated or vigilant our family was on behalf of our loved ones, the neglect by these strangers could not be prevented by us. They, in my opinion, murdered our loved ones through neglect, without out remorse or concern about their own accountability. As angry as I am about that, I hope they never have to suffer the same fate when they are old enough to do so because, if they do, we all will. I do what I can to speak on behalf of those who cannot in hospitals, but I am one voice. I wish there were others alongside mine. I feel very alone when I do. Am I being unreasonable when I call attention to situations like this? Those being brutally neglectful of seniors seem to think I should mind my own business…. but I did…. when I could…. for my own loved ones…. and it didn’t help. I don’t think calling attention to deaths that occur through neglect is unreasonable, do you?

  8. The problem is so simple. We here in Sonoma County, CA have thousands of seniors sleeping on the street. We don’t care. Cuba, one of the poorest countries in South and central America has no homeless. There is free education, free housing, and free medical and it’s medical is the best in the hemisphere. We the richest country in world history has millions of homeless, whom Trump will put in uniforms, hobnail boots, clubs and side arms led by the KKK, American Nazi and White supremacist and tell them to go to it. They disenfranchised dispossessed have revenge on their minds.

    • Oh, Cuba cares alright, the homeless are rounded up and put into camps. And your maniacal remarks about Mr. Trump just demonstrates how deluded some people are.

  9. “For more than 80 years, Social Security has helped secure today and tomorrow with financial benefits” is misleading. The Social Security Act was enacted on August 14, 1935, and began to tax wages in 1937. The first check was issued in 1940. Other aspects of the law also began around that time with employers of 8 or more people paying a small % into a Federal and State fund to provide for unemployment compensation but in the common vernacular of today people only think of SSA which has been paying benefits for 76 1/2 years not over 80 years.
    And elder abuse, it certainly exists and having dedicated a day for such awareness is nothing but bloviating. It is meaningless and it’s only intent is to deceive the masses to believe that governments care and will actually do something about it.

    • Where are the families of these people John? Many of them are not miles and miles away and still their “loved ones” are neglected and allowed to be mistreated. Yet for the reading of the will they WILL find a way! SMH

  10. Stacy and Ray – Why have you said NOTHING in response to any of the comments about actual elder abuse situations posted in response to this article? Your silence may be speaking louder than words, you know.

  11. Every time one of those elderly dies, the Social Security Administration saves money. The big pharmaceutical kickbacks to the nursing home prescribing off label prescription and killing seniors actually helped the SSA.

    The federal government probably already developed a virus that kills only the elderly.

  12. Social Security Amendments of January 1, 2016 and 2016 Annual Report to the Board of Trustees of the OASDI Trust Funds and SSI Program HA-6-6-16 http://www.title24uscode.org/ss1.htm

    If you want to reduce elder abuse, wildfires, and rampage shootings, fire the National Institute of Disability Independent Living and Research (NIDILR) and appoint a Disability and Independent Living (DIL) webpage with a “class president” of the disabled in the Administration on Community Living (ACL) under Sec. 1.

  13. Here is my situation…I am 67 years of age and I am living with my mother, age 89. She decided to charge me rent after living with her. Then said the rent would be $400 per month. At the time, I just moved back to California from the mid-west after suffering severe financial hardship in 2013. I had lots of monthly obligations to pay, however, she stated that she did not care. I have been here for nearly 3 years and I have had to deal with her changing the rules about rent and other issues that pertain to living in her home. Since 2013, I have had to call APS (Adult Protective Services) and the police (more than once) to deal with her. She has emotionally abused me (this was her way of dealing with things she did not agree with that I did financially). Additionally, I had brain surgery October 2015, and upon my discharge from the hospital, she proceeded to continue her abusiveness towards me. At one point before having surgery (September 2015), she continued to harangue on my shortcomings (health mostly) and my financial woes. Because of the health issues I had, I became incontinent and she took upon herself to hose me down in the back yard (naked). What was not known at the time is that I had a brain tumor that had affected me for several years. This, too, did not matter to her. She and my two younger brothers have scolded me for my unwillingness to comply with her wishes; I had to report them as well. Now she is trying to force me out of the house when she encouraged me to come live with her. I understand it is her home, but I am paying rent and have had to consult with a couple of attorneys to determine what my options are when I don’t have a sufficient sum of money to secure my own place. It is almost like she is bent on making me a homeless person. It, also, doesn’t matter to her that the process to obtain either section 8 housing or low income housing takes many months and even years. At present, I am looking for low income housing (I began this process in November 2015 (surgery to remove a benign tumor took place in October 2015). My concern now is the my youngest brother has been offered $2,000 to move me to the state of Washington where my son lives. Additionally, I am under doctor’s care and will not be released, at the very least, October 2016. I am still undergoing tests and observation since having the tumor removed. What can I do to get her to stop her from harassing me on every situation? Is this a type of abuse? One attorney I spoke with wanted thousands of dollars to work, and then said my case is not sufficient to work. I got very discouraged and now I can only hope that my brother does not try to move me against my will.

  14. I too was financially abused by my son and his wife, they took a four-plex that I
    had was buying, it was rented. I went to a sheriff, told him my problems, he
    thought I had enough proof to proceed legally, at the time our district attorney
    was having legal wife problems and refused to even look into my problems.
    I found a private attorney who tried t help, because of my lack of finances, the
    best we could do was hire a retired judge for an arbitration hearing, he didn’t
    bother to hear anything I had to say, because he said I didn’t have a witness,
    neither did my son, although his wife went as his witness, when he and I spoke, no one was present, except the two of us, Everything I’ve heard about available
    help sounds great, But, It doesn’t work in the real would. Marie

  15. I haven’t seen the SSA OIG bust any elderly on SSI. There is probably a lot of elderly financially abusing the SSA.

  16. Elder abuse, a very important topic. I realized there is abuse in homes but what about nursing homes. My mother was in Greenbriar Nursing Home in Parma Hts., OH and she had been a fall risk. Well my 101 year old mom fell and hit her head April 1, 2016, she is dead now; 2 weeks ago. No one took care of her, I say this with tears in my eyes. She was vibrate and moving around before the fall, they just don’t care, they want the money. I think looking at the nursing homes is a good thought. We place our family members there and yes they are old and have problems but mom fell more then once there, this one killed her. Help the families please.

  17. Under the Older American’s Act an older person is one who is age 60 and older. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is recognized every year on June 15th. Here in Wisconsin most of the 72 counties highlight this day by holding events and distributing information on elder abuse. For a listing of “what’s elder abuseabuse?” go here: http://www.centeronelderabuse.org/red-flags-of-elder-abuse.asp
    To find out about elder abuse agencies or aging programs where you live please contact this government helpline, Eldercare Locator at: 1-800-677-1116.

  18. If someone is in your home and won’t get out than sell the home to the Mafia. That person may decide he wants no dealings with them.

  19. This is a highly important issue and one that is often neglected. It is vital that people watch out for seniors in their family or their community, always alert to the fact that some people will try to take advantage of vulnerable older people. It is sad that this happens, but we can help stop it happening by keeping communication open with older people and watching out for the signs of abuse. 

  20. What about those of us who entered an independent living facility based on the promise of services that would be offered, the fact that a qualified Chef was in charge of the kitchen and special needs would be catered for, only to find that it was more like a nursing home, power chairs wheel chairs, walkers, canes, oxygen, dementia and more, some who were violent, the cost of this place is astronomical and we are not receiving what we were promised. Complaints are listened to but nothing is done. Other Independent Living homes in the area are more expensive there is no chance of . I am 90 years old and thought I was going to be provided with peace of mind and consideration.

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