While government and citizens struggle to deal with the COVID-19 crisis it’s little wonder that the battle against elder abuse cause tends to gets lost in the shuffle. And, with such trying economic and distressing times, the abuse rate is on the rise.
Area Agency on Aging Social Worker Angela Solylo stated that she’s seen an increase in the number of cases of elderly abuse. “Cases where their social security checks are being withheld,” stated Solylo. “This, and other instances of crimes against the elderly are on the rise.”
Elder abuse can be verbal, physical, emotional, sexual, or financial. It can also include intentional or unintentional neglect. Every year, an estimated one in 10 Americans 60-years-old and older are victims of elder abuse.
Cases are significantly under-reported, in fact, research suggests as few as one in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities.
Why? Many elderly victims may be embarrassed or ashamed that they were taken advantage of, they don’t want their family or loved ones to be prosecuted, and/or they are concerned about retaliation and losing their belongings.
Now, elders face contact tracing scams. Those pretending to be health officials ask for social security numbers to help track Coronavirus cases. Elderly people are very trusting, and they want to believe that no one would harm them. Unfortunately, it is just not true.
One of the biggest risk factors for elder abuse is social isolation, which can be especially concerning with physical distancing because of COVID-19. As this pandemic continues, criminals and fraudsters are still hard at work.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of a crime? The Elder Victims of Crime program, or EVOC, can help. They offer:
⦁ Emergency shelter
⦁ Emergency transportation
⦁ Emergency clothing and food
⦁ Window and lock replacement
⦁ Legal aid assistance
⦁ One on One support
⦁ Weekly support group meetings
⦁ Weekly educational meetings on strategies to avoid crime and/or safety planning
To qualify, individuals must meet 3 requirements:
⦁ Be at least 50 years old,
⦁ Live in Franklin or Sebastian County, and
⦁ Self- identify as a victim of crime.
Qualifying crimes include (but are not limited to) theft, scams, and all violent crimes. The victim is not required to file a police report or even name their offender to be eligible for services.
If requested, an EVOC employee can speak to your organization, group, or church on several targeting topics, e.g. Elder Abuse and Neglect, Fraud, Spotting Scams, and Financial Exploitation. Please contact the EVOC Coordinator at (479) 424-2021 or (800) 320-6667.