World Elder Abuse Awareness Day will be observed in Ottawa County on Friday, June 17 and the Ohio Department of Commerce is asking Ohioans to watch for signs of financial exploitation of older adults, and promptly report suspicions of abuse to appropriate officials.
“According to the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, the population composition of Ohio is shifting older,” said Commerce Director Sherry Maxfield. “By 2025, more than 1 in 4 Ohioans will be age 60 and older. As our state’s older population numbers increase every year, elder financial abuse rises due, in part, to the amount of wealth seniors have accumulated throughout their lives.
“Another key factor is social isolation. Even before the pandemic began in 2020, many in our older population were vulnerable due to being separated from family for myriad reasons,” Maxfield said. “COVID made that problem worse. So it’s critical for family members, caregivers, friends and neighbors to keep in touch with older adults and watch for signs of financial exploitation.”
Maxfield suggested these five warning signs to watch for:
- The presence of a new and overly protective friend or caregiver, or the older adult has surrendered control of his or her finances to a new friend or partner.
- The older adult’s lack of knowledge about his or her financial status or their reluctance to discuss financial matters with family.
- Sudden or unexplained changes in the person’s spending habits, a will, trust, or beneficiary designations.
- Unexplained checks made out to cash, unexplained loans, or unexplained disappearance of assets such as cash, valuables, and securities.
- Suspicious signatures on the older adult’s checks or other documents.
If any of these sound familiar, contact the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Adult Protective Services in the county where the older adult resides.
If there is suspicion of securities fraud, call the Ohio Division of Securities’ Investor Protection Hotline at 877-683-7841.
Employees at Ohio-chartered banks, credit unions and similar financial institutions are considered mandatory reporters if they suspect financial fraud is occurring with a customer. The Division of Financial Institution’s Office of Consumer Affairs can provide guidance to financial institutions for reporting purposes.
Ohio’s Adult Protective Services Referral Line at 855-OHIO-APS (855-644-6277).
Ohio Attorney General’s Elder Justice Unit at 800-282-0515.
Individuals concerned about financial exploitation and other types of abuse in nursing homes or assisted living facilities should contact the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 800-282-1206.
The Ohio Department of Aging’s website includes resources to learn more about the many types of elder abuse, recognize the signs of physical or financial abuse and scams, and how to report suspected abuse.
Ohio’s Area Agencies on Aging help connect older adults to local services and supports that promote independence, reduce isolation, and help reduce the risk of abuse and exploitation. Call 866-243-5678 to be connected the agency serving your community.