World Elder Abuse Awareness Day - June 15, 2018
One of the most cherished segments of any community is its elders. Our elders are the women and men who have lived through more than many of us can imagine, who shaped the world into its present state and have passed the baton to future generations to continue improving upon the foundation they built, and whose hearts and minds possess invaluable wisdom, experience, and lessons from which we all should take heed. Unfortunately, this most precious portion of our population is also the most susceptible to fraud, neglect, and abuse by those who fail to hold our elders in the revered esteem each of us should.
June 15, 2018 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This day provides an opportunity for the Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia to promote a better understanding of the abuse, fraud, neglect, and schemes perpetrated against older persons by raising awareness of the financial, physical, and economic processes affecting elders. The impact of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation is nothing to take lightly:
- Elder abuse triples the risk of premature death and causes unnecessary illness, injury, and suffering.
- Victims of elder abuse are four times more likely to be admitted to a nursing home and three times more likely to be admitted to a hospital.
- Financial exploitation causes large economic losses for businesses, families, elders, and government programs, and increases reliance on federal and state health care programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
- Older adults with cognitive incapacity suffer significantly greater economic losses than those without such incapacity.
- As a result of providing care for an older adult, some caregivers experience declines in their own physical and mental health which can result in a continued cycle of neglect and abuse.
From family members and caregivers taking advantage of a person who no longer has the physical or mental capacity to fend off a would-be abuser to domestic and international criminals operating online, via phone, and through our postal system to target vulnerable elders and access the money they have earned over a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice, there are many who seek to take advantage of our senior citizens.
Congress, through the enactment of the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, in partnership with our state and local law enforcement, has given us the tools necessary to target, stop, and prevent these bad actors from taking advantage of elders in Middle Georgia. Over the course of the next year, our office will be conducting a series of public forums educating senior community members and concerned citizens about various aspects of elder financial fraud. We are also working with our state and local law enforcement partners who already prosecute and investigate elder fraud cases to conduct enhanced training and seek out opportunities to assist in their work by prosecuting cases in federal court where there is no parole for fraudsters sent to prison. Please be on the lookout for information about these programs and other Elder Justice initiatives in your local area as we would love for you to join us at the community forums.
Protecting elder Americans is the responsibility of every member of the communities throughout Middle Georgia. I encourage you to visit www.elderjustice.gov and learn more about the ways you can assist in our efforts to prevent fraud, neglect, and abuse of elders. Take time to visit an older adult often and talk with them in private. Speak up when you think something seems wrong. To report abuse of seniors or adults with disabilities, please call Adult Protective Services at 1-866-55AGING or you may report anonymously through the web at https://aging.georgia.gov/report-elder-abuse. To report financial exploitation, please go to www.justice.gov/elderjustice/roadmap.
 Department of Justice – Elder Justice Initiative (www.elderjustice.gov)