Sheriff’s office warns seniors of elder abuse

Published 3:00 am Friday, February 28, 2020

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For the most part, senior citizens, especially those from the South, are trusting people.

That’s a commendable trait, but it can also be one that leads to difficulties.

That was the message Sheriff Russell Thomas and Lt. Troy Johnson of the Pike County Sheriff’s Department delivered to the seniors at Goshen Town Hall Thursday morning.

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“Senior citizens tend to believe what they are told,” Thomas said. “But, sadly, in today’s world, you cannot believe everything you are told. There are those who will take advantage of the trusting nature of senior adults. It happens more than you would think and right here in Pike County.”

Thomas cited three local incidents where senior adults either opened the door to a stranger or were victims of fraud.

One resident opened the door to find a masked man brandishing a shotgun.

“She was afraid she was going to be raped or killed, but she was fortunate in that she was not hurt,” Thomas said. “Another local resident was misled into thinking she was talking to an insurance agent and another senior adult’s phone line was cut in a robbery attempt by a man who had done yard work for her.”

Thomas cautioned the participants at the Goshen Senior Center not to open their doors to anyone who is unknown to them and not to give any information over the telephone or through the mail.

Senior adults are the number one target for financial scams – through the mail, over the telephone, in person and over the internet, Thomas said.

“Asking for personal information, for money to be sent, scare tactics or attempts to enter one’s home are immediate red flags,” Thomas said.

“We are living in bad times and bad things go on all the time and a lot more often than you think. If you have any concerns, call the sheriff’s department. Remember, don’t open your door unless it’s someone you know and don’t give any information over the telephone. And, don’t hesitate to call the Pike County Sheriff’s Department. We are here for you.”

Johnson cautioned the seniors about several forms of elder abuse including emotional abuse, neglect, physical/sexual abuse, emotional abuse and financial exploitation.

Financial exploitation often occurs when a senior adult has been, perhaps, too trusting of a family member and money has been taken or used inappropriately without consent.

Johnson also cautioned the seniors about the possibility of misuse of power of attorney.

“It is important for senior adults and family members to make sure all financial and legal affairs are in order. Doing so protects their finances, their home and their assets,” Johnson said. “Senior adults need to learn the importance of the legal documents and how to be protected from being financially exploited before they sign on the bottom.”

Johnson told of a local incident where a close relative abused the trust of a senior member of the family and made costly purchases and drained the senior’s bank account.

“Make sure you give power of attorney to someone that you trust completely,” Johnson said. “And, there are different forms of power of attorney. Financial power of attorney gives another person the authority to manage your finances and property and to transact business on your behalf. Limited power of attorney gives the agent limited tasks but not complete control over financial matters. With Healthcare Power of Attorney, an agent is appointed to make medical decisions on your behalf.”

Johnson said an agent with power of attorney can be replaced if and when circumstances arise.

And, if there is a shadow of doubt about any situation, Thomas and Johnson advised the seniors at Goshen Senior Center, “just don’t do it!”