Senior Corps has taken an active role in increasing awareness about the threats of fraud and abuse to our nation's seniors. With the approach of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Saturday, June 15, we are again reminded that this is an ongoing problem.
Elder abuse takes many forms — physical, emotional, financial, and sexual — and can come at the hands of strangers, family, and trusted caregivers or advisers. Studies estimate that 10 percent of America's seniors experience some kind of abuse and neglect, although it's generally agreed that incidents are under-identified and under-reported. For example, the New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that for every case known to programs and agencies, 24 were unknown.
Improving community involvement and social engagement for seniors is one way to combat this problem. Senior Corps volunteers educate their peers and caregivers about how to recognize fraud and abuse as well as techniques to protect themselves from becoming victims of the various types of frauds and schemes.
Our Senior Companions, who perform the most one-on-one visits, are specially trained to recognize the signs of elder abuse, but all Senior Corps volunteers learn how to engage in this oversight to identify concerns that may go undetected in their communities.
In 2018, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) Senior Corps program announced a partnership with U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Elder Justice Initiative to help stop those who would defraud America’s seniors.
The DOJ initiative is designed to support and coordinate the department’s enforcement and programmatic efforts to combat elder abuse, neglect, and financial fraud and scams that target our elders. We have identified 157 RSVP and Senior Companion projects that devote a portion of their grant-supported activities to Elder Justice initiatives through the prevention and detection of financial scams and other elder abuses.
Senior Corps' volunteers provide this valuable service in communities all across America, and we thank them for their efforts.