Henderson, Nev. – June 15 has been designated as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day by the United Nations. In recognition of this global issue affecting senior adults, Henderson Police are highlighting the importance of protecting older Southern Nevadans from elder abuse.
Elder abuse is any form of mistreatment that results in harm or loss to an older person. Warning signs of elder abuse may include:
• An older person seeming fearful, anxious or isolated.
• There may be injuries or an absence of personal care.
• Disappearance of possessions, unexplained financial transactions and changes to a will, property title or other documents.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced elder abuse or neglect, making it a priority issue. In 2016, there were 3,750 reports of elder abuse in Clark County. Leaders in the aging field are concerned that the issue is poorly understood; stereotyped and disconnected from meaningful discussions and that this is negatively impacting policies of prevention and remediation.
While the mistreatment of an older person may be carried out by a family member, it is often non-family members who have been placed in a caregiver position who abuse the position/power for personal gain. Like other forms of family violence, most elder abuse occurs behind closed doors, so it is important for loved ones to watch out for signs, listen and offer help.
Another issue facing seniors is financial exploitation. Financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an older person’s funds or resources. Only one in 44 incidents of financial harm is reported to authorities.
Some examples of financial exploitation include:
• Using ATM cards without permission.
• Forging a signature on a check or property title (wills, deeds).
• Using a power of attorney to benefit oneself rather than the older adult.
• Unauthorized sales, such as a family ring or the family farm.
Older people can reduce the risk of elder abuse by making sure their financial, medical, legal and other affairs are in order. They must also be empowered to recognize signs of elder abuse and speak out. Older residents of Henderson experiencing elder abuse, or family members concerned about an older person, can get help and advice by visiting Elder Protective Services or their local police station to speak with advocates or file reports regarding possible abuse.