Prevent Elder Abuse
Aging Matters

Elder abuse is a growing crime which does not discriminate and the opportunities for mistreatment are limitless. Exploitation occurs in nursing homes, by money managers or those who have the power of attorney, family members, and offshore thieves. Scammers don't care about an elderly's economic status, ethnicity, educational background and geographic location. To say it's a growing problem understates its horrific reach.

Aging experts know the dilemma that elder abuse victims face; those abused live in silent desperation, they do not seek assistance because they believe their suffering will be ignored, and they fear retaliation from the abusers and fraudsters. And worse, the abused older individual remains silent to protect the offending family members from the consequences, or they are too embarrassed to admit that they have fallen victim to predators.

Therefore, it takes courage and strength of a caring person to take action and stand by the victim.

To help older adults to prepare and prevent potential scams and fraud, the Aging Council members at offers tips and suggestions to mitigate the chances of elder abuse.

"Choose a trustworthy person to handle your affairs-such as a family member or a really close friend. This person can oversee your accounts and check if there are any unusual activities. Also, be sure to surround yourself with professionals that have gone through the proper screening. Hire people from credible organizations. Lastly, ask loved ones to arrange surprise visits."

"Know that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably Is - this mindset will help seniors be wary of shady deals/promos, when in doubt, confirm - best done with a caregiver. Always seek help - especially if abuse comes from the caregiver. Elders should always have a list of hotlines ready to contact in cases of abuse."

"One way to prevent a senior scam is make sure the person handling your finances is someone you trust. An elder law attorney can help make sure no one will get their hands on your assets. Also place spending limits on the credit cards."

"Get educated about email phishing scams-how to identify them, and how to avoid them. Be wary of any "free" product offerings over the phone or online, and cautious with any entity asking for personal information, even if they claim they are a government agency-again, speak to a friend or family member first before filling out such forms."

"Learn about current scams by browsing the AARP Fraud Watch website. Check with a trusted relative or friend before sharing personally identifiable information, buying financial products, paying for a product or service from a company you don't know, or signing contracts. Be suspicious of any person who tries to be your best friend or cut you off from family and friends." (link to AARP Fraud Watch --

Carol Marak, aging advocate, and editor at She's earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.

Part of the Aging Matters Weekly Syndicated Column

Aging Matters is a weekly column tackling everyday challenges that our growing elderly population and their loved ones face. It is also published in a variety of syndication partners including newspapers all over the country.

Learn More

More on Caregiving