Approximately one in 10 seniors have experienced some form of elder abuse, according to the National Council on Aging. Pamela Glasner’s parents were are among them. She says a stranger swindled about $400,000 from them in 2011.
“This man insinuated himself into my parents lives at their Synagogue,” she said. “Apparently what this guy did was say, ‘I’ll help you pay your bills’ so that’s how his name ended up on the checking. We called the nursing home and they told to my brother ‘Oh your brother is taking care of everything,’ and my brother said, ‘I don’t have a brother.’”
Peter Sepulveda is the bureau chief of the Medicaid Fraud Bureau at the NJ Office of the Attorney General, one of 17 private and government organizations participating in the awareness day event. Sepulveda says Glasner’s mother is not alone.
“Elder abuse in America cost $36 billion every year — more than we spend on coffee, more than we spend on sporting events,” Sepulveda said.
Joan Vogel’s mother fell victim to a sweepstakes scam. Vogel says a stranger carried out the scam from Israel wiping her bank account of $200,000.
“Israeli government had put a hidden camera in this boiler room of this place in Israel and you could see how he was instructing the young girls as too how to call the people, if you don’t think they have much money go ahead and hang up,” said Vogel.
The Division of Consumer Affairs acting director Paul Rodriguez says physical abuse, neglect and isolation are also common among the elderly. He says there’s help for those who have suspicions of elder abuse and want to prosecute those who are responsible.
“We can loan out to you a hidden camera for a short period of time. There’s been a couple of prosecutions of abuse that have come from that program,” he said.
There were also about 10 different vendors at the event, including the first and only elder abuse shelter in the state which provides a safe haven for seniors that are experiencing abuse or neglect.
“What happens often is a victim goes to the emergency room or to the doctor and who’s standing right next to them? And they say, ‘Mrs. Jones, how did you get this injury?’ And before Mrs. Jones can tell the truth, the abuser says ‘She’s so clumsy,'” said Carol Silver Elliot, president and CEO of The Jewish Home Family.
And the state Attorney General’s Office says if you know someone or have witnessed elder abuse to call the authorities, call a friend or call a family member.