International World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is held each year on June 15.
As local co-chairs of the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Committee, we read the recent headlines outlining crimes against older adults with great concern. The articles described the plight of an 89-year-old Island woman who was defrauded of $55,000 and a home invasion assault of a man in his 80s living in Nova Scotia.
Unfortunately these episodes are not isolated. On P.E.I., 75 per cent of the referrals to Adult Protection are for people over age 65 with the most common forms of elder abuse reported as self neglect, caregiver neglect, financial abuse, and emotional/verbal abuse.
Financial abuse, which includes theft, dishonest use of money or assets, forgery, fraud, or misuse of a power of attorney, can happen to anyone.
As we continue to support efforts to prosecute people who commit these crimes, we would also highlight some important tips that older adults can use to protect themselves from financial abuse: Ensure that your financial and legal affairs are up to date; Don’t give out personal or financial information over the telephone or email; Protect your passwords and don’t share them with anyone; Keep copies of everything that you sign; Open your mail personally and review bank and credit card statements; Don’t let family members or anyone else pressure you into making decisions right away.
Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to speak out if you suspect that you are being financially abused.
You are not alone, but the situation may become worse if you do not take action.
Please contact your local police or financial institution if you suspect that you are being financially abused.
Richard Savidant and Casey McGannon, co-chairs, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Committee for Prince Edward Island.