Elder Abuse - Pierce County

What Constitutes Elder Financial Abuse?

There are many types of financial abuse of elders. Here are the most common:
  • Taking money or property
  • Forging a signature
  • Getting older person to sign a will, POA, etc. through deception or undue influence
  • Using elder's property or possessions without permission
  • Telemarketing scams
  • "Sweetheart" scams
  • Reverse mortgage scams

What Constitutes Elder Physical Abuse?

The most common types of physical abuse are:
  • Physical assault
  • Withholding food, water, medications, etc.
  • Over-medicating
  • Unlawful restraining (strapping/tying elder down)
  • Failing to obtain/provide medical care

Why are Elderly Targeted?

  • People over 50 control over 70% of nations wealth (NCPEA statistic)
  • Seniors are often dependent on others to help
  • There are predictable patterns of income (receive monthly checks, steady retirement income, etc.)
  • Older adults are less likely to take action against perpetrator (embarrassed, illness, etc.)
  • Many seniors are isolated/lonely
  • Dementia/cognitive deficiencies are more frequent in later years

Who are the Perpetrators?

  • Family members
  • Caregivers
  • Maintenance people
  • Strangers
  • People with substance abuse/gambling problems

Who is at Risk?

Every senior is at risk. Even the most professional and astute senior has been the victim of physical or financial abuse.
  • Elders who are isolated/lonely
  • Suffered a recent loss
  • Physical/mental disabilities
  • Lack of familiarity with financial matters

Warning Signs

Family members and good friends should be alert to some of these signs:
  • New "best friends"
  • Unpaid bills, notices coming in mail
  • Bank statements no longer coming to elder
  • Changes in legal documents (will, POA)
  • Unusual financial activity (large transfers, unexplained withdrawals, large gifts, etc.)
  • Unusual changes in mood of elder (quiet/withdrawn when usually cheerful)
  • Unexplained bruising in unusual location (inside of arms/legs, etc.)
  • Pressure sores that have not been treated
  • Unfilled prescriptions, missing medications

What can you do?

Please don't be bashful. Speak up.
  • Watch out for each other
  • Beware of unsolicited help (yard work, house cleaning, caregiver, etc.)
  • Beware of sweepstakes scams (prize offers)
  • Beware of sales people
  • Have a couple of trusted individuals assisting with finances
  • Observe elders for signs of physical abuse or neglect
  • Report!

What to do if you suspect abuse, neglect or exploitation of a vulnerable adult

  1. If this is a case of immediate danger, call 911 and report a crime to law enforcement
  2. Call Adult Protective Services in Pierce County anytime day or night to report the concern at (877) 734 6277 or 1-866-ENDHARM
  3. If the abuse is happening at a long term care facility, call the Pierce County Long Term Care Ombudsman at 253-798-3789
  4. Call the Pierce County Aging and Disability Resource Center to discuss your concerns and receive additional resource information at (253) 798-4600 or (800) 562-0332.
  5. The Pierce County law enforcement non-emergency number: (253) 798-4721
  6. Learn what the County Prosecuting Attorney is doing to help. Visit the webpage of the Identity Theft & Financial Elder Abuse Unit.