A case worker at the Armstrong County Area Agency on Aging says he is concerned about people taking advantage of senior citizens.
David Baker works in the Protective Service Unit for the Agency.
“As a general rule when a person ages, there may be some declines cognitively (as well as) some declines physically,” he said during a radio interview on WTYM AM 1380. “These create a situation where the person is more at risk of emotional abuse, physical abuse, exploitation, and neglect.”
Baker recently wrote an article on the “Quiet Victims of the Opoid Epidemic.”
“We are seeing a connection between drug addiction and abuse. Individuals are moving in with their elderly parents or grandparents. These individuals may have drug addiction. Because of these risk factors, we have a situation in which we have a ‘softer target’ for exploitation – such as gaining access to that individual’s funds and assets. Our seniors have rotating income that is constantly flowing in – Social Security, annuities, pensions, etcetera. Those financial arrangements are set up in such a way that they can be easily accessed. Often formal responsibility (for management of these assets) is given to the perpetrator in the form of power of attorney or representative payee.”
Baker said this form of victimization of senior citizens is unfortunately occurring more often.
“It is so often that I interview seniors that are in situations where they are perpetrated by a family member who is residing with them, whether they are diverting their prescription medication, they are accessing their funds, or threatening them to give money to them to purchase drugs.”
Baker said that often the parent or grandparent has a difficult time seeing their loved one as a drug addict. The senior cannot see that the addiction takes priority over what would normally be common sense – especially financially.
“When it comes to addiction, that individual, who may still be trusted and a nice and kind person to that (senior citizen), may change once the chemicals have been introduced. That’s a hard realization to accept. There is a lot of guilt (senior blames themselves), patterns of behavior, minimalization of that person’s behaviors because you still see that person (in your mind of who he was) before the chemical. And many times they will assume responsibility for the transition that has occurred.”
“There is a great deal that plays into why a person allows themselves to be victimized.”
Baker suggests that senior citizens never have just one person being responsible for their affairs, which he feels adds layers of protection. He said that seniors should not appoint just one person as their single source for assistance, but rather spread the responsibilities over several individuals.
If you feel you are a senior citizen you know is being victimized, Baker encourages a call to the Protective Services Unit at 724-548-3290.