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Pandemic leads to an increase in financial exploitation of senior citizens

Posted at 6:12 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 00:02:29-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The pandemic has isolated many people, especially Tennessee senior citizens.

"I think that's especially true with our elderly population," said senior advocate Joseph McAnally, with the Office of Family Safety. "They have fewer interactions with communities, fewer doctor appointments, religious services."

It's a worry for McAnally because he says since the pandemic, the Office of Family Safety has seen an increase in elder abuse but there are fewer opportunities for people to spot it happening.

"Then you put on top of that the economic hardship of the pandemic that has resulted in a lot of people losing jobs so you have a lot of adult children depending on elderly family members more now," McAnally said.

Ashley Hunter is the director of the "Victory Over Crime" program at FiftyForward.

They've also seen this uptick when it comes to financial exploitation with elderly folks specifically.

"Adult children are getting into a weird place financially because of COVID and needing help from family," Hunter said, "so they're moving in with mom dad grandparents who are older adults and then a situation occurs where older adult is financially supporting child or grandchild and they're not able to financially able to support themselves to take care of themselves with the things they need."

Signs of financial abuse are unusual withdrawals or insufficient fund activity, forged signatures on documents or confusion of missing funds.

Elder abuse can also be in the form of physical and emotional abuse. Look out for bruises or broken bones.

During this is a time when everyone is being told to stay home but still, make sure you check in with your vulnerable relatives, neighbors, and friends.

Advocates say many of these situations go unreported because victims are scared or don't want to get their family member in trouble.

FiftyForward does client check-ins and assessments. Their "Victory Over Crime" program supports older adults who have been victimized by crime. If you know of an older adult in need, you can call them Monday-Friday at 615-743-3416.

You can also contact the Office of Family Safety at 615-880-1100 or visit them at 610 Murfreesboro Pike.