“It is our privilege to work collaboratively with the Office of the State’s Attorney to recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day,” said Karen Sylvester, Acting Manager, Department of Family Services, Aging Services Division. “It is important to raise awareness of the ramifications of elder abuse and to provide ways in which elderly and vulnerable adults can protect themselves.”
The purpose of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the social, economic, and demographic processes affecting elder abuse. Each year, hundreds of thousands of older adults are abused, neglected, and exploited. Elders throughout the United States lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation. These exploited funds could be used to pay for basic needs such as housing, food, and medical care. Unfortunately, no one is immune to abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
“Annually, millions of Americans fall victim to scams and financial exploitation, but according to the National Center on Elder Abuse, women and elders over 65 are most likely to be victimized, many times by people who are close to them and are trusted to take care of them,” said Angela D. Alsobrooks, State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County. “Elder abuse can occur anywhere…in the home, in nursing facilities or other institutions. It affects seniors across all socioeconomic groups, cultures and races. We try very hard to educate the community on ways to avoid becoming victims, and we work to prosecute these financial predators.”
For the first time ever, the Office of the State’s Attorney has a prosecutor specifically assigned to handle cases involving elder abuse, many of which involve financial exploitation of seniors by family members and care givers who drain bank accounts or seek reverse mortgages on the
The Prince George’s County World Elder Abuse Awareness Day at Iverson Mall featured guest speakers, resources, and workshops regarding Guardianship, The Basics of Reverse Mortgages, Available Services to Help Seniors Age in Place, and Social Security and Medicare Fraud. Diana Varela, Public Affairs Specialist for the Social Security Administration, urged participants to sign up for my Social Security, a personal website tool that allows internet users a secure way to do business like providing proof they are receiving Social Security benefits, or making changes to their address or direct deposit information.
“We are making changes in the way we provide some services so we can serve the vast majority of Americans better and more efficiently,” said Verela. “We will discontinue providing Social Security number printouts. These printouts have no security features and could be easily misused or counterfeited. By investing in new technologies and finding innovative, cost-effective ways to deliver service, we are able to provide the best service possible to everyone who comes to us for help.”
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was launched on June 15, 2006, by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. Each year, on or around June 15th, communities and municipalities around the world plan activities and programs to recognize WEAAD.
“While 1 to 2 million reports of elderly and vulnerable adult abuse are made in the U.S., it is estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse is actually reported,” said Karen Sylvester. “That is why it is so important to have programs such as these to highlight this growing concern.”
For more information and services for older adults, call the Aging and Disability Resource Center at 301-265-8450. The Prince George’s County Department of Family Services, Aging and Disabilities Resource Center is a single point of entry for individuals in need of current information about opportunities and services available to seniors in Prince George's County. The program also connects persons with older family members who live outside the County with local service agencies in their communities.