Every year, abuse and exploitation rob older Americans of $3 billion — and this is only the amount reported. When criminals take advantage of older persons by forging a signature or coercing them to sign a will, the impact goes far beyond the pocketbook and affects the physical and emotional health of the victims. Those who perpetrate these crimes can be a stranger, such as an aide who comes into the home to assist with daily activities, or they can be someone in a position of trust, such as a family member.
For the 40 million family caregivers who provide a great labor of love by helping their parents and spouses live independently at home, the threat of elder abuse is daunting. While some family caregivers provide 24/7 care — assisting with finances, transportation, medication management and more — others may count on the support of paid aides to help. Entrusting the care of a loved one to a stranger can be hard enough; imagine the nightmare if that person is a criminal.
Right now, AARP staff and volunteers across the states are working hard to fight elder abuse and exploitation. Here’s how:
Preserve and strengthen state adult protective-services agencies
These agencies investigate complaints about abuse, neglect and exploitation of adults who are unable to care for themselves or make decisions due to mental or physical impairment, illness or a crisis in their lives.
In states across the country, AARP advocates both to increase funding and to ward off efforts to cut funding for state agencies.
Better prevent, detect and address financial exploitation
While each state has a different approach, many are fighting elder financial exploitation with task forces, new legislation and more.
Increase penalties against perpetrators
States are adopting legislation to increase criminal and civil penalties against perpetrators of financial exploitation and to update the definition of financial exploitation.
Improve Adult Guardianship and Power of Attorney Laws
In the states, AARP has been at the forefront of the fight to improve guardianship and power of attorney statutes, practices, and standards by advocating for comprehensive and accountable reforms. Our goal: to help protect vulnerable adults and provide their caregivers with the tools necessary to make important decisions.
How to get help:
- People who witness any form of abuse should call 911.
- A state-by-state list of places to report elder abuse is available on the U.S. Administration on Aging’s National Center on Elder Abuse website, ncea.aoa.gov, or by calling 800-677-1116.
- If you’re a caregiver, know the facts about managing your loved one’s money