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Mark Elder Abuse Awareness Day With Awareness, Tips
11:57AM / Wednesday, June 15, 2016
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In honor of Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, five local stakeholder organizations are hoping to cut down on financial exploitation of the older residents of the Berkshires through a collaborative effort to bring awareness and training to the greater community.

The Berkshire Bar Association, Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office, Berkshire Elder Protective Services, Elder Services of Berkshire County and Greylock Federal Credit Union are launching a campaign titled “They Earned It, You Can Help Them Keep It” to raise awareness and prevent financial exploitation of elders.

Every day 10,000 people turn 65 in the United States, and that trend is expected to continue over the next 20 years. Demographics are shifting, and soon there will be more elder people in the United States than ever before. At the same time that the population is growing, a startling number of elders face abusive conditions of all kinds. Every year an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.

That is only part of the picture. Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 24 cases go unreported.

Awareness and intervention may make the difference between protecting or losing a lifetime of savings for a senior. The campaign will help the community recognize changes in circumstances such as altered appearance, non-typical spending habits, and new people entering an elder’s life. These indicators should be evaluated and reported immediately if necessary.

If your intuition recognizes something is wrong, assistance is available through: Berkshire Elder Protective Services at 855-874-3242; Elder Services of Berkshire County at 413-499-0524; the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office at 413-443-5951, or local Police Departments by dialing 911.

The community effort will run through the summer and fall and will include training programs, awareness campaigns and outreach throughout the county.

In addition, Adams Community Bank is urging older customers and their trusted caregivers to safeguard all personal information and stay alert to the common signs of financial abuse. The bank offers the following tips:

* Plan ahead to protect your assets and to ensure your wishes are followed.  Talk to someone at your financial institution, an attorney, or financial advisor about the best options for you.

* Carefully choose a trustworthy person to act as your agent in all estate-planning matters.

* Lock up your checkbook, account statements and other sensitive information when others will be in your home.

* Never give personal information, including Social Security Number, account number or other financial information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.

* Never pay a fee or taxes to collect sweepstakes or lottery “winnings.”

* Never rush into a financial decision.  Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion. 

* Consult with a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.

* Get to know your banker and build a relationship with the people who handle your finances. They can look out for any suspicious activity related to your account.

* Check references and credentials before hiring anyone. Don’t allow workers to have access to information about your finances.

* Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to keep a paper trail.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations.

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