Most people think that only people living in substandard nursing homes are subject to elder abuse. It is also common belief that most abusers of the elderly are strangers, not family members. These are two of the most common myths surrounding elder abuse.
In reality, most abused elderly individuals suffer harm at the hands of those closest to them, including relatives, caregivers and other individuals they trust. Moreover, most elder abuse cases happen in the home, not in nursing homes.
Understanding the reality and truth behind elder abuse can help you better protect your elderly loved ones. Below are three additional myths surrounding elder abuse.
Myth #1: Smart, Educated Seniors Do Not Fall for Scams
Another big myth is that seniors who are smart and well educated do not fall for scams. The truth is that individuals who target the elderly know better than to use scams that prey upon their intended victim’s intelligence. Instead, they target these group of seniors by playing to their emotions. They call them with stories that their loved ones, such as a grandson, is in some type of emergency situation and need immediate cash. In a panic, the elderly individuals pay the fee, only to later realize it was a scam.
Myth #2: The Elderly Are Not Legally Protected
Another myth is that the legal system has not taken any steps to protect our elderly individuals. California has enacted laws that specifically prohibit elder abuse. Individuals or corporations who physically or mentally abuse the elderly can be subject to a maximum of $6,000 in fines and imprisonment for up to four years. In addition, California law also subjects the abuser to additional years in prison if the senior victim suffers great bodily harm or dies as a result of the abuse. Financial abuse of the elderly is punishable by a maximum of $10,000 in fines and imprisonment for up to four years.
Myth #3: Financial Elder Abuse Is Not a Big Deal Since Most Older Adults Are Poor
Financial abuse is a big deal amongst the elderly. According to a report by the AARP Public Policy Institute, one in 5 elderly Americans are victims of financial exploitation each year. The researchers of this report found that these elderly victims lose $3 billion annually, or more than $120,000 apiece, “the amount a typical 50-plus household has in retirement savings.” The elderly population are big targets of financial abuse because they have accumulated $18 trillion in assets. They are also easier to target because they are more likely to suffer from problems with memory and judgment, making them vulnerable to financial fraud.