Arizona—long known as a retiree destination—may also create more potential targets for elder abuse and financial exploitation of seniors. In fact, according to a Mesa, Arizona governmental website, between 1.5 and 1.84 million Americans are victims of elder abuse each year. In Maricopa County alone, Arizona Adult Protective Services handles as many as 10,000 cases of elder abuse and exploitation each year. More than 200 people move to Maricopa County each day to escape the brutal winters in their home states. Many of these are retired seniors and as such, they are potential victims of elder scams and financial abuse.
ELDER ABUSE OCCURS MORE OFTEN THAN REPORTED
Elder abuse has occurred for centuries but failed to receive national attention until the early 1980’s. The Select Committee on Aging held hearings in 1981 where first-hand testimony from victimized elders were heard. The conclusion by the Committee was that elder abuse was a full-scale national problem, existing with a frequency few could imagine.
One of the problems associated with elder abuse is the fact that it is rarely reported—as few as one in 14 incidents of elder abuse are reported to authorities. There are a number of reasons for this lack of elder abuse reporting, with the primary reason being fear and shame on the part of the elderly. There may be a fear of retaliation, a fear he or she will not be believed, a fear of the criminal justice system in general, and a fear of being institutionalized and separated from their home and family.
PREVENTION REQUIRES VIGILANCE
In “retirement” states like Arizona, children and parents must be vigilant about looking out for elder abuse. Financial exploitation can be more difficult to identify than physical abuse, and is a subject that neither victims nor their children want to talk about, largely from embarrassment. Perpetrators of elder financial abuse may be opportunistic strangers or could be family members who want to access a relative’s financial resources. According to Arizona’s Adult Protective Services, just under 50 percent of the elder abuse cases received involve family members.
Perhaps the most significant recent action taken to protect the elderly is the Elder Abuse Prevention and Protection Act, signed into law in 2017. Laws don’t protect seniors by themselves, however, and it is important that family members ask appropriate questions and that seniors feel empowered to ask questions of trusted professionals.
CONTACT OUR PHOENIX ELDER ABUSE LAWYERS TODAY
If you believe that your loved one has been a victim of nursing home abuse or elder abuse, we can help. At Miller Kory Rowe LLP, our Phoenix elder abuse lawyers can hold negligent institutions and caregivers responsible for the harm they have caused. Contact us today at (602) 648-4045 for a free initial consultation and review of your case. We can help you protect your loved ones from abuse. Call us today!