About 400 social workers, law enforcers, lawyers, nursing home workers, and others who work with vulnerable adults gathered recently at the University of Minnesota to discuss what some think could be the next big crime wave: elder abuse.
A conference, hosted by the Minnesota Elder Justice Center, was one of many nationwide marking World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The recognition began in 2006 and is intended to raise awareness of financial crimes and other abuses targeting older people.
One Anoka County prosecutor commented that more tips are coming from financial institutions and nursing homes. These tips cover a wide variety of concerns, including possible financial exploitation and medication thefts. Elderly victims often are reticent to report the crimes because they’re embarrassed and don't want to be perceived as being vulnerable.
One assistant Hennepin County prosecutor said that crimes against the elderly are "doubling year-over-year." Yet, there are only two attorneys assigned to work full time on crimes against the elderly in this county. The most common crimes involve financial exploitation by family members and abuse by professionals.
An assistant Carver County attorney said his office is preparing for "a tsunami of financial exploitation" crimes that prey on older people. He noted that prosecutions can be avoided in some instances by asking a suspected abuser to a meeting with adult protection maltreatment investigators to discuss the penalties for elder exploitation.
Ashton Applewhite, an author and activist, remarked in her keynote speech, "We aspire to grow old, and yet we dread the prospect. We are all old people in training."
Reference: Minneapolis Star Tribune (June 20, 2016) “Minnesota elder abuse reports increasing”