Telephone scams and theft of prescriptions pills are among the many different types of elder abuse, but in all instances, the numbers are rising.
It is estimated that more than $2.6 billion dollars are lost to elder financial abuse and exploitation, according to The Hillsdale (MI) Daily News in “Understanding Elder Abuse.” Another statistic of concern: The Administration for Community Living reports that one out of every ten people age 60 and older who live at home experiences elder abuse of some kind. Also, the administration reports that these numbers are probably on the low side because so many victims are unable to report the crime—or are afraid that reporting the crime will make their situations worse.
When it comes to scams, IRS phone scam are popular. A scammer calls a senior and threatens prison time because the senior owes the IRS money. In reality, the IRS doesn’t call people.
Unfortunately, many senior citizens are the target of scammers through phone calls, email and postal mail. Scammers can use charm, intimidation or scare tactics to convince their victims to hand over cash or credit card information.
Also, many seniors don’t look at their Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs), which are received quarterly. This provides details for all of the services received and what Medicare will pay. It’s not a bill. It’s a summary of services and Medicare payments. Keep a log of when you go to the doctor or have a test or treatment so you can compare what you actually received to what Medicare paid.
There also can be problems with seniors who become attached to a caregiver, whether paid or not. This can lead to poor choices, especially when a caregiver has financial or family issues and shares these problems with a sympathetic senior. Frequently the senior can’t afford to help financially but will still do so because of his or her attachment to the caregiver.
Theft of prescription drugs by family members is another problem for many seniors. One official noted that often seniors have to choose between buying medication and purchasing food or paying bills. When the medications are stolen, their situations become even more dire. Many social service agencies are working to reach seniors with a message that they can and should ask for help if they have been victimized. It is not how they expected to spend their golden years.
Reference: Hillsdale (MI) Daily News (July 13, 2016) “Understanding Elder Abuse”