Countdown to World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2019

Every year on June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is commemorated in America and around the world.

Through WEAAD, we raise awareness about the millions of older adults who experience elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. As many as 1 in 10 older Americans are abused or neglected each year and only 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse ever comes to the attention of authorities. Older Americans are vital, contributing members of our society and their abuse or neglect diminishes all of us. WEAAD reminds us that, as in a just society, all of us have a critical role to play to focus attention on elder justice.

The Administration for Community Living (ACL), along with our federal and aging partners, invites you to join us in Lifting up Voices for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2019, a theme that is centered on unifying the shared values of elder justice and responding to violence against women to bring to the forefront the lived experiences of older people around the globe.

Full story at acl.gov

Five Ways to Fight Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation

As Americans, we believe that people of all ages and abilities deserve to be treated fairly and equally and to live free from abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Tomorrow, on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day , we join the world in recognizing the importance of elders to our communities and standing up for their rights. Here are five ways you can join this fight.

1. Break Down Isolation

We cannot talk about elder abuse without talking about social isolation. Elders without strong social networks face a greater risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. It is up to all of us to ensure that our communities are supporting and engaging older adults. One simple way to do this is by staying in touch with the older adults in your community. So go ahead and knock on your neighbor’s door just to say “hi” or start an intergenerational book club or movie night. You can also support community efforts to empower elders and fight isolation; act by volunteering to deliver meals or serve as a long-term care ombudsman.

Full story at acl.gov

Opioids and Other Elder Justice Challenges

In nine days, we will join the world in commemorating World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). Elder abuse is, by definition, abuse that affects older adults, and yet every year on WEAAD I see people of all ages coming together to take a stand against elder abuse. This is because elder abuse doesn’t just affect the person being targeted. Friends, family members, and neighbors all feel the effects. It affects anyone who is, or hopes one day to be, an elder living in a community where they are treated fairly and equally. And ultimately, it affects all of us, because at elder abuse strikes at our core values, which are predicated on human dignity and the right of all people to live their lives without fear of harm.

Similarly, opioid addiction doesn’t just affect the person experiencing addiction. It affects everyone around them, and as we are seeing across the country, it can have devastating effects for the entire community.

And when these two issues overlap, the results can be heartbreaking.

Full story at acl.gov

Seniors can call new hotline to report scam, abuse

A new, toll-free hotline has bene set up to help seniors who have become victims of a scam or fraud.

The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging unveiled the hotline Nov. 14.

The toll-free number will make it “easier for senior citizens to report suspected fraud and receive assistance. It will be staffed by a team of committee investigators weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” states a news release.

Investigators, who have experience with investment scams, identity theft, bogus sweepstakes and lottery schemes, Medicare and Social Security fraud, and a variety of other senior exploitation issues, will “directly examine complaints and, if appropriate, refer them to the proper authorities.”

Call the fraud hotline at 1-855-303-9470, or contact the committee through its website, www.aging.senate.gov/fraud-hotline.

Full story of seniors scam hotline at Highlands Today

Watchful Eye in Nursing Homes

A pretty nightie, a new lipstick, a fresh toothbrush: Doris Racher noticed that small things she had bought for her 96-year-old mother, Eryetha Mayberry, a dementia patient at a nursing home in Oklahoma City, had been disappearing. Ms. Racher assumed the culprit was another resident who sometimes wandered into her mother’s room and fell asleep in her bed.

So in 2012, Ms. Racher placed a motion-activated camera in her mother’s room. It looked like an alarm clock, and Ms. Racher nearly forgot about it.

About two months later, the family decided to pore through the recordings.

The camera had not caught the petty thief. But it captured something else:

An aide stuffed latex gloves into Mrs. Mayberry’s mouth, while another taunted her, tapping her on the head, laughing. Hoisting her from her wheelchair, they flung her on a bed. One performed a few heavy-handed chest compressions.

“My niece started bawling and couldn’t watch anymore,” said Ms. Racher, 78. “I was furious.” Mrs. Mayberry died soon after.

On Nov. 1, propelled by the outcry over the Mayberry case, Oklahoma became the third state — along with New Mexico and Texas — to explicitly permit residents in long-term care facilities to maintain surveillance cameras in their rooms. In the last two years, at least five states have considered similar legislation.

Full story of watching nursing homes at The New York Times

Nursing home abuse and neglect on the rise in Texas

A KVUE Defenders investigation uncovered cases of nursing home neglect on the rise across Texas. The investigation also discovered that facilities repeatedly cited for violations rarely see their contracts terminated with the state, despite getting millions in taxpayer dollars.

One of those abused included 97-year-old Minnie Graham. Her granddaughter Shirley Ballard considered her a saint.

“She would do anything for anybody. She would give you the shirt off her back,” Ballard said.

When Graham’s dementia took its toll a few years ago, her family put her in a Dallas-area nursing home.

After noticing bruises on her hands and face, they put a clock in her room equipped with a hidden camera.

A few days later, they reviewed the video in horror. They saw two nursing home aids slapping her on separate occasions. Video also showed a male aid shoving her head in the bed and then later flips Graham the middle finger.

Ballard said it was difficult to watch.

Full story of nursing care abuse at KVUE ABC

Senior Citizens Educated on Youth Substance Abuse

The ongoing efforts to bring youth alcohol and drug abuse education to the local community reached out to township seniors on Nov. 6, with a program presented by Cape Assist. Over a delicious luncheon, Cape Assist Program Coordinator Joe Faldetta discussed current trends among young people regarding alcohol and drug abuse.

Faldetta, 37, a county native who has worked with Cape Assist for seven years, expressed particular concern about some of what he called “new risks” young people face in communities like Dennis Township. But if young people are at risk, why tell a room full of senior citizens about it?

Faldetta’s message is that every concerned citizen and group in a community can play a role in dealing with this growing societal problem. “For example, there’s a growing problem with proper disposal of prescription medications,” he said. “There’s a high rate of abuse among young people using prescription medications improperly.”

Faldetta described what he called “medicine cabinet parties” at which partiers fill a bowl with a potpourri of pills pilfered from home medicine cabinets. Reduced access effectively reduces the potential for abuse. He did however caution against flushing or tossing away those unneeded medications.

Full story of seniors educated on youth substance abuse at Cape May County Herald

China’s solution to elderly neglect: Sue your kids

In China, a country that values tradition and respect for its elders, a new law allowing seniors to take their children to court for neglect might appear out of place.

However, the Elderly Rights Law, which came into effect in July, has struck a chord at a time when the world’s second-largest economy is grappling with a fast-aging population.

“I saw about [the new law] on TV – I can now sue my own children if they don’t come and visit me!,” says Chen Jianguo, a 72-year old retiree living in Beijing, China’s capital city.

“I think there needs to be a law like this. Young people these days… I’m very disappointed, so many old people spend their time alone,” he added.

The United Nations expects more than a quarter of China’s population to be over the age of 65 by 2050. It forecasts the population, currently at about 1.35 billion, to peak in 2030.

A one-child policy introduced in 1977 has contributed to falling birth rates, while life expectancy, aided by a boom in the economy, has risen.

Full story of elderly neglect solution at CNBC

Banks recruited to stop scams on senior

Just one year ago, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that it could not find any federal requirements for banks to train tellers and others to spot or report elder financial exploitation.

To be sure, many banks and credit unions try to prevent such fraud through various efforts. But increasingly, banks are being told that their employees are part of the solution on the front lines to stopping financial abuse.

Federal regulators joined forces Tuesday to issue guidance to clarify that privacy rules don’t trump common sense for reporting suspected elder abuse to law enforcement officials or state adult protective services agencies.

“Older Americans are all too often victims of financial exploitation,” said Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “They make attractive targets because they often have higher household wealth — whether it is in retirement savings or home equity.”

Families caring for older relatives know too well about the constant fear that some outsider, or maybe even a relative up to no good, might find a way to get a senior’s ATM card and PIN.

Full story of banks helping to stop scams at USA Today

Financial abuse of elderly not trumped by privacy laws: feds

It’s been a murky area for bank employees for some time: When does the suspicion that an elderly customer is being defrauded overcome laws protecting privacy rights?

As the U.S. population ages, financial scams targeting the elderly have become a growing problem, netting thieves billions of dollars a year. And the front line of defense against this form of elderly abuse often is a teller or credit union staff member whose hands have been tied by regulations requiring them to keep mum about a customer’s financial activities.

Until now. Eight federal regulatory agencies have issued a joint document that clarifies privacy rights and responsibilities for employees of financial institutions. They provided this guidance because so many companies have expressed concern that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, aka the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, puts privacy ahead of fraud prevention.

Fraudsters are masters at manipulating their victims – especially seniors. They can convince someone to give them thousands of dollars for some bogus reason: whether it’s to claim a sweepstakes prize, help a loved-one in distress or to strike it rich with a “guaranteed” investment opportunity.

An employee at a bank or credit union might suspect something is wrong when a customer makes an unusually large withdrawal, but they may not say anything because of privacy concerns.

Full story of financial elderly abuse at Today Money