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June 15 was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Golden Living

Every year on June 15th, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEEAD) is observed throughout the United States and around the world, raising awareness about the millions of older adults who experience abuse, financial exploitation and neglect. The federal government’s Administration for Community Living defines elder abuse as “any knowing, intentional or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult.” It can take the form of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse; often accompanied by neglect, exploitation and/or abandonment.

In the past, local WEEAD events have taken place in alternating years in Dutchess and Orange Counties, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of last year’s event and shelved plans for a local, in-person 2021 WEEAD event this year. We hope the Office for the Aging can participate in a renewed observance in 2022.

In the meantime, we all have a critical role to play in advancing justice for seniors. Elder abuse goes unrecognized in many parts of the world, and tends to go under-reported in the United States. Official estimates of elder abuse show it affects up to 10% of older Americans, but only one case in 14 comes to the attention of authorities. The U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in May estimated the annual losses to victims of financial abuse as at least $36.5 billion.

Scams aimed at seniors also fall under the DOJ definition of elder abuse. While scammers are continuously changing their techniques to avoid being caught, many forms of scam remain popular with criminals because, unfortunately, they’re effective.

Impostor scams remain widespread. The Social Security scam is a common one aimed at seniors: The scammer calls the prospective victim and falsely claims that the victim’s Social Security number has been “suspended” because of suspicious activity, then tricks the victim into giving up their Social Security number. Similar impostor scams involve criminals claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service, Medicare and countless other government agencies. Scammers also impersonate “tech support,” concocting stories about computer problems — even if you don’t have one.

In the highly unlikely event that you were in hot water with any of these agencies or businesses, they would never contact you by phone.

More key information about recognizing and preventing elder abuse is available at www.justice.gov/elderabuse, and from the Bronx-based Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Center for Elder Justice (www.theweinbergcenter.org).

A regularly updated Scam Prevention Resources flyer with contact information for local scam-prevention resources is available at the Office for the Aging’s website: www.dutchessny.gov/aging. The flyer is also in the Summer 2021 edition of OFA’s Spotlight on Seniors newsletter, due out later this month. The Spotlight will be available at public libraries countywide. It will be emailed to those on the county’s Dutchess Delivery OFA mailing list, with physical copies mailed to those on the OFA postal mailing list.

To get on the email list, go to www.dutchessny.gov/DutchessDelivery; to get on the physical mailing list, call 845-486-2544.

 

Golden Living is prepared by Dutchess County Office for the Aging Director Todd N. Tancredi. He can be reached by telephone at 845-486-2555, by email at ofa@dutchessny.gov or via the OFA website at www.dutchessny.gov/aging.

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