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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – June 15, 2020

Today, June 15, 2020, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was launched by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN).  Historically, local community organizations have partnered local law enforcement and adult protective services on this day to sponsor in-person events to highlight solutions to the systemic issues related to abuse. Unfortunately, this year we have an even bigger challenge due to orders to shelter-in-place that impact our ability to host large gatherings.  But many are taking to social media, and hosting webinars and online events to hear from speakers on the topic of elder abuse.

The isolation orders targeting at-risk and older adults also create an even bigger risk for financial abuse. Estimates of losses due to elder financial abuse range from $2.9 billion to $39 billion annually, and remain largely underreported, albeit at rates higher than self-reports of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect.  Many families are unable to visit their older relatives for fear of spreading COVID-19, and there has been an uptick in financial scams perpetrated by fraudsters taking advantage of the fear and isolation many of our loved ones are experiencing during this unprecedented time.

Compounded even further by the COVID-19 pandemic, the impacts of social isolation include anxiety, depression, and diminishing cognitive function, which increases the likelihood of failing prey to financial abuse. Now more than ever we encourage you to reach out frequently to your loved ones.  Consider a daily “social hour” for family check-ins, or encourage grandchildren, nieces and nephews to write letters while they are unable to attend school or summer camps.  Are they able to do calls via video or FaceTime? During the calls, find out who else may be calling.  Have they been receiving phone calls to donate money? Have they received their stimulus checks or responded to offers of a “COVID vaccine”? Consider steps you can take in advance:

  1. Educate yourself on the different types and signs of elder abuse.
  2. Immediately bring concerns to the proper authorities.
  3. Thoroughly research potential nursing home and check for red flags.
  4. Determine ways to conduct regular check-ins if you are unable to visit your loved one in person.

Watch for ideas in your local community on improving social opportunities for older adults.  In fact, organizations such as the Heritage House and Cycling Without Age are innovating new and creative ideas to help seniors maintain those social connections as the current environment also makes it difficult for older people to stay involved with, and connected to, our communities.

At American Riviera Bank, we hope to be part of the solution by offering you tips and resources throughout the month of June to assist you in protecting friends and family who are at-risk for abuse.  You can make a difference, today and every day, in helping to prevent abuse.  Listen here to our podcast episode on the most common scams seen by local law enforcement and banks. Watch our blog and social media feeds for new resources and red flags for COVID-related scams, which are often new variations of long-standing phishing, charity and other scams.  We will close the month of June, World Elder Abuse Awareness Month, with a webinar on June 30, 2020 at 10 AM PST on common scams and available resources for reporting and responding to suspicions of abuse.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in finding out more, organizations such as the National Center on Elder Abuse can help you get involved in the effort.  You can also call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 to explore local community services and support.  If you, or someone you love, is a victim of Elder fraud, take action and call: 1-833-372-8311. #WEADD

Thank you for reading, and stay well.