May is Older Americans Month
Those who are older than 55 are the ones who witnessed many things in their lifetimes. Their childhoods were spent in the 40s or 50s where they saw nuclear fallout shelters installed in back yards; they also witnessed Woodstock in the 60s, grieved over the Vietnam War and were either disco dancing or two stepping, depending on which of John Travolta’s two movies they were more drawn to in the mid and late 70s. They saw their own children grow up in the 80s and many now have grandchildren. Each May, the Administration for Community Living celebrates Older Americans Month to recognize older Americans for their contributions to the nation.
This is an especially important year: it’s the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act (OAA). This year’s theme is “Get into the Act”. It’s all about raising awareness and making a difference in their communities. But it’s also about other important issues that affect this generation.
One of the most alarming issues for older Americans is the numbers associated with elder abuse. Did you know that each year, 5 million older Americans are abused, neglected or exploited? These are the cases that are actually reported; some estimates suggest that for every one case reported, another 23 cases go unreported. This is one reason why this particular injustice is part of this year’s government awareness program.
Many families turn to us when they’re afraid their loved one is being financially exploited. The proper powers of attorney could easily remedy those concerns, especially because financial abuse is one of the most common ways our older loved ones are exploited. But how do you know what to look for? The National Center for Elder Abuse offers these red flags for elder financial abuse:
- Your loved one doesn’t have the things she needs, even though she can afford them. This might include groceries or utilities in jeopardy of being disconnected.
- You’ve noticed that your elderly father is giving a caretaker expensive gifts, whether it’s cash or other valuable items and the caretaker isn’t refusing them. Note that finding the right caretaker has its challenges and when a family brings the ideal person into the mix, it’s natural to want to reward her and let her know she’s appreciated. These situations are fine, it’s those situations where there’s clearly something else going on. One client’s mother gave her hired caretaker her car; clearly this isn’t acceptable.
- Your loved one is being isolated by one person and anytime you call or stop by, this person is resistant to allow you to speak to your loved one.
- Your loved one appears withdrawn and may even wince when the same person says her name or directs a question to her.
These are a few of the more common signs that could mean trouble. It’s important to not ignore those red flags and remember, there are legal avenues available for your loved one, including putting a power of attorney in place. To learn more about elder abuse or Older Americans Month, contact The Zimmer Law Firm today.