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Elder Abuse and Senior Fraud

Most of us hope our seniors are getting the best support they can to live the life they want. At Senior Step’s, Inc. we strive in all we do to make sure that happens. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Sometimes we become involved a little (or a lot) too late, after the effects and consequences of abuse have left their mark. One of the most tragic and heartbreaking things that can happen to seniors is falling victim to scams or abuse by persons looking to take advantage of them. Scams such as the “this is your granddaughter, I need money because I was in an accident!” and predatory service companies are much more common than many people are comfortable believing. One popular phone scams poses as the IRS, demanding payment with the threat of the police coming to arrest them if they don’t. Terrified, seniors all too frequently offer social security numbers, bank account information, credit card info, and other private information. These types of cons prey on seniors' ignorance, while others exploit seniors’ charity, kindness, and unfamiliarity with complex scams. The goal is to gain access to their assets accumulated throughout their lifetime. These scams attack from the outside and don’t have a personal relationship with the senior. Perhaps even sadder than the outside scams, is abuse and exploitation of a senior by a family member or trusted caregiver. Often in a position to take care of a seniors daily/weekly/monthly routine and needs, they may also ingratiate themselves and take advantage of them financially. There have been many cases where a caregiver convinces an elder person to make drastic financial decisions under duress or without understanding the complex legal and financial ramifications. An abusive caregiver may say to an elder “I need your debit card to buy your groceries” and push the elder to sign over access to their online banking (which the elder may have never used). Given this access, said abuser could steal nearly the entirety of the elders financial resources, or frivolously spend it on nonsense (one case had a caretaker use their clients savings to buy themselves a JetSki!). We’ve talked about financial exploitation and abuse, but there are other forms. Physical abuse can be used as a way to intimidate a senior into allowing access to their home, other property and/or finances. Physical abuse could be shoving, grabbing arms, slapping, punching ...anything that inflicts physical pain or harm on a person. Emotional abuse by yelling, giving the silent treatment, berating someone takes an enormous toll on anyone. Neglect can be found when someone is deprived of enough food, assisted with proper hygiene, given poor living conditions (sleeps on a couch), not taking/given medication as prescribed. Neglect could be by the caregiver or the person themselves, unable to properly care for themselves. All of these are just some of the ways abuse can take form. At Senior Steps, Inc, the core of our mission is to act as an advocate for our clients and their families. With our experience dealing with the legal and financial systems that surround senior care and life planning, we are very familiar with the telltale signs of elder abuse and consider it our duty to put a stop to it and defend our clients from abusive persons, caretakers, service providers, or otherwise. As dedicated geriatric care managers, our goal is to provide a healthy, happy elderhood for all our customers and clients, and that especially includes preventing abuse or fraud and ensuring their physical, financial, and mental safety. Keep in mind that abuse can often be hidden! And sometimes what appears as abuse isn’t at all! Sometimes abuse comes out of ignorance. For example, a daughter or son may reduce the medication, or skip it altogether to save money! The intent is to stretch the budget, not meant to harm. Or, you may see an elder sleeping on a couch seemingly deprived of proper accommodations, only to find out all efforts have been made and the senior will only sleep on THAT couch. If you have concerns or questions there are resources! In Massachusetts you can call Elder Abuse 800-922-2275. Not sure, or nervous about a loved one, reach out to us and we can offer some guidance and direct you to appropriate resources!

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