Another growing concern brought on to us by COVID-19 is the surprising uptick in reported cases of elder abuse during this time. Experts say the reasoning behind this could be the fact that these seniors are quarantined and isolated, therefore making it difficult for signs of abuse to be detected.
Unfortunately, there are various types of abuse. There is physical abuse, wherein the symptoms are more direct and obvious – and when noticed, would immediately prompt inquiries from family and the senior’s immediate support system.
And then, there is the subtle type of abuse that has become prevalent during COVID-19 – financial abuse, which elders have become a prime target of.
With the uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought upon us, there are plenty of individuals who are unemployed, but have family members that are well to do. The temptation to take advantage of seemingly unknowing family members is difficult to resist.
Lora Myles, a lawyer who works with elder adults, shared that one of her clients, was duped by his own grandson. His grandson shares the same name as his father, grandfather, and great grandfather, and used the opportunity to collect Social Security checks from all three of them simultaneously. Thankfully, her client became eventually aware of what was going on and took the right steps in reporting his grandson. His grandson is now serving time for fraud and sits in federal prison.
Lora’s advice is to call Adult Protective Services immediately if you suspect an elder adult being abused. She also shared that there are benefits in getting to know your neighbors also as they can be the one to call for help when an elder adult is subject to abuse. Oftentimes, Lora shared, elder adults are on the fence about reporting their own family members even though they have knowledge that they are being scammed by their own family. When Lora’s mother, Jean Myles, became aware that one of their neighbors was being abused, she contacted authorities immediately.
William Palmer, financial advisor, attributes the reason why plenty of older adults are falling prey to abuse is due to the fact that they are isolated. The isolation affects them in such a way that they become desperate to have an open communication with individuals, even if they are strangers – this is when scams such as romantic scams come into play. Like Lora, William advises individuals who know elderly seniors to advise them to talk and reach out to someone, especially in times when they feel isolated.
If you or someone you know might be a victim of elderly abuse, call Adult Protective Services at 888-729-0571 for statewide and all other areas.
If you suspect that someone you know may be immediate danger, call your local authorities right away.
For More Information
The Community Foundation’s latest initiative, Preventing Financial Scams, was created to help protect the community – our seniors. If you would like to learn more about how to protect yourself, or your community from financial scams, please visit https://nevadafund.org/initiatives/financial-abuse/ or call the Community Foundation for more information at 775-333-5499.
By Luiza Benisano, Jean Myles, Lora Myles and William Palmer