In 2014, the General Assembly voted to create a special task force to examine the growing problem of elder abuse in Tennessee.
Experts say seniors have increasingly been finding themselves victims of financial abuse and scams.
Startling statistics were presented to the Elder Abuse Task Force in Tennessee last month, and the task force began discussing potential solutions for this growing problem.
What Did the Elder Abuse Task Force Discover?
Elder financial abuse spans a wide spectrum of acts, including taking money or property, forging a signature, getting an older person to sign a deed or will through deception or coercion and telemarketing scams.
While two-thirds of the victims of financial abuse have been women, 60 percent of the abusers were men between the ages of 30 and 59.
Nearly all – about 90 percent – of the abusers are family members, whether it be children or grandchildren, followed by caregivers and professional con artists who have targeted older adults.
An attorney told the task force that elder abuse is more closely associated to child abuse than any other thing, and it has some challenges that aren’t faced in child abuse cases that make elder abuse harder to detect and harder to rectify. He told the committee the problem was that seniors rarely leave their home and have limited contact with the outside world where someone may be able to help them.
Beverly Patnaik with the Council on Aging told the task force that when family members have been the abusers, victims often don’t report it.
“They’re ashamed that their family members are behaving that way towards them,” Patnaik said. “They’re in denial. They blame themselves.”
Patnaik added they are afraid of many things, including fear of the abuser, fear of retaliation, fear of being forced to leave their home and fear of losing their independence.
Patnaik said the top scams that target the elderly include:
- House repair work scams where the con artist takes the victim’s money and never does the work
- Magazine subscriptions where the elderly are persuaded to buy a year’s worth of magazines they’ll never read
- Calls supposedly from grandchildren who claim to be in jail and need to be wired bail money
- Calls insisting the elderly person failed to show up for jury duty and must pay a fine
The elder abuse laws in Tennessee have not been updated in many years. The task force group, once they’ve identified what problems need to be fixed, will make recommendations to the General Assembly as to how to fix them. The task force’s report is due in January when the legislature reconvenes.
Tragically, the elderly in this country are taken advantage of on a daily basis. Elder abuse laws in Tennessee provide some level of protection. However, in many cases, hiring an experienced elder abuse attorney is the only way families can ensure that those who did their loved one harm are brought to justice. For more information about elder abuse and how we can help victims and their families, give us a call at 615-690-2080 to schedule a free consultation with our Nashville personal injury lawyer.
“You shall rise up before the grayheaded and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the LORD.” – Leviticus 19:32