Our View: Fighting elder abuse in Bristol County

The Herald News
By Editorial Board
August 31, 2015

After spending their lives working hard, raising their families, saving money and contributing to their communities in so many ways, senior citizens deserve to live their golden years free from the threat of abuse or exploitation. Unfortunately, instead of giving elders the respect and dignity they deserve, some unscrupulous criminals see seniors as easy targets.
There were an astounding 21,000 cases of elder abuse last year in Massachusetts, with one-third of those cases involving some type of financial exploitation. This is a big problem that must be addressed. Fortunately, many elderly residents can defend themselves against this type of abuse and exploitation if they know the warning signs of trouble and ways to protect themselves.
That’s why it’s good that Bristol County District Attorney Tom Quinn III has made this issue a priority in his office. There are sadly many types of elder abuse — from financial exploitation, to neglect, to heinous physical abuse. Scams and other types of abuse could come from a stranger over the phone or online — or even in one’s own home by a family member, caretaker or a person who is supposed to be trusted.
As he made his commitment to combatting elder abuse clear at the Taunton Council on Aging last week, Quinn provided a variety of tips and pamphlets for seniors to guard against this type of abuse, and explained that his office will place a priority on targeting these types of cases for prosecution, while also working proactively to give seniors tips to prevent elder abuse from occurring in the first place — before the damage is done.
Quinn explained that there are several ways to guard against financial exploitation, such as never providing payments or financial information over the phone. He also advised seniors against wiring money and just saying no to people asking for money or information. As the saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If something seems odd, it’s smart to trust one’s instincts, avoid the situation and contact authorities in order to protect themselves and other potential victims.
Meanwhile, family members and seniors themselves can also remind their loved ones and friends the types of scams and dangers that exist and how to guard against becoming victimized by those who would do harm. Although it can be upsetting to hear about these types of threats, knowledge is power.
It’s good to see the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office taking elder abuse seriously and working to get the word out to prevent this type of terrible exploitation that can cause harm to seniors and those who love them.