Iowa Marks Elder Abuse Awareness Day
DES MOINES, Iowa – Older adults lose nearly $3 billion a year through financial abuse, and that's one reason Congress made prevention a national mission by passing the Elder Justice Act in 2010.
The mission is being honored today with the 13th annual World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Anthony Carroll, advocacy director with AARP Iowa, says the quality of life for an older adult is severally affected when they become a victim of abuse.
"It really is putting a spotlight on what is really unconscionable,” says Carroll. “The fact that abuse of older Iowans, of older Americans, whether it be physical or financial, is occurring."
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley helped lead the passage of additional legislation, the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act, which was signed into law last year.
Elder abuse is so staggering, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates one in 10 seniors is a victim. Carroll says the most common form is financial exploitation, and the person is often taken in by someone they trust.
"But unfortunately, the most common perpetrator of financial exploitation is loved ones or someone around them, perhaps a paid caretaker,” says Carroll. “So, what can we do to better protect people? And it starts with first of all, giving them more autonomy to protect themselves."
In 2014, Iowa lawmakers passed legislation to improve power of attorney laws, and AARP encourages those who are aging to make sure these types of guardianship papers are current.
Carroll adds there are many ways to scam-proof your life, starting with the telephone.
"If you don't know the caller, you can always let the call go to a voicemail and call people back,” says Carroll. “The most important thing is, if you do take a call, don't give money over the phone."
He says anytime a caller encourages a sense of urgency, it's probably a scam. Federal, state and local officials are now investing a new form of elder abuse – the theft of medications, including opioids.