World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is June 15, designated to draw attention to older adults who may be mistreated, neglected or exploited financially.
Senior citizens can fall victim to physical violence, theft, medical negligence and improper care, especially those who are the least able to fend for themselves.
In an emailed news release, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey stressed the importance of working to keep them out of harm’s way.
“Elder abuse and financial exploitation, all too often, happen in the shadows, committed by perpetrators who strike fear in their victims in hopes of rendering them silent — such abuse cannot be tolerated,” said Morrisey. “I urge everyone to be aware of the warning signs and contact our office when something seems off. Such vigilance can save our grandparents, neighbors and loved ones.”
Approximately 10 percent of men and women age 60 and older have experienced some form of abuse or exploitation and it is estimated that as many as 5 million elderly adults suffer each year, according to national research.
Still, researchers believe many instances go unreported. It is of particular concern in West Virginia, where U.S. Census estimates show people 65 years old and up account for 18.8 percent of the population.
The schemes — which often are perpetrated by telephone or email — can include lottery and sweepstakes scams, home repair or traveling con men, people posing as utility company workers, Medicare scams and withholding needed care and medical services.
The National Adult Protective Services Association, a national nonprofit organization, says that vulnerable adults can be exploited by even the people they most trust, including caretakers and family members.
Morrisey’s elder abuse litigation and prevention unit strives to educate the public and eradicate all forms of abuse among the elderly population.
Anyone in need of its expertise should contact the attorney general’s senior services and elder abuse hotline at 304-558-1155 or HelpForSeniors@wvago.gov.
In Maryland, if you suspect an older adult is being mistreated or the victim of financial exploitation or fraud, call the Maryland Department of Aging at 1-800-332-6347.