Craigslist is a multi-faceted web site with listings for homes, rental units, rooms, cars, employment and for dating. This site and more traditional dating web sites generally warn users to be aware of whom they are contacting, to take proper precautions when meeting someone and that the site is not liable for any assaults or injuries that may occur.
Unfortunately, elderly people are scammed on Craigslist and other sites and are vulnerable to robbery or sexual assault. Many elderly individuals are physically if not mentally powerless when confronted by a younger assailant or by the offers of assistance or companionship by thieves or con artists.
An example of such vulnerability in the elderly concerned a 74-year old male who in April of 2015 had contacted a person on Craigslist’s personal ads section. Without warning, the person came to the elderly man’s home and overpowered him with a stun gun before robbing him of credit and ATM cards. The robber was soon found and charged with burglary, elder abuse and identity theft. The offender pled guilty to robbery and was facing up to 6 years in prison.
To prevent such occurrences, the elderly, or anyone else, should not give out identifying information to anyone from such sites or on the phone or online, and to only meet potential dates in public areas or with a companion.
What is Elder Abuse?
Elder abuse is any form of injury or harm that can be physical, mental or financial, to an elderly person, usually at least 65 years of age. Every state has laws addressing elder abuse crimes.
Elder abuse may be perpetrated by family members, nursing home staff, financial advisors, friends or others in positions of trust. The forms of elder abuse include:
Elderly persons who are unable to care for themselves are abandoned by a caretaker, usually a relative, and left to starve or to become ill from being deprived of medication, food and water and having to endure unsanitary living conditions.
An elderly person can be neglected by their caregiver or by nursing home staff who negligently or deliberately fail to provide proper medical care, food or protection.
Family members as well as nursing home staff members do physically abuse the elderly who are physically unable to defend themselves or too demented to complain to anyone. Signs of abuse include untreated bed sores and other wounds, bruises on wrists from restraints, red marks on the face, black eyes and bruises on limbs and genital area, broken limbs from unnecessary falls or from careless handling or assault and malnutrition and dehydration.
The elderly can be the target of bullying by family or nursing home staff or by other residents. Intimidation, threats and ridicule are not that uncommon. An elderly person who suffers such indignities often suffers from extreme depression and withdrawal, mood changes, fear and intense anxiety. They can be unduly influenced or forced to turn over assets.
Many elderly persons eventually become unable to handle their financial affairs and will entrust them to others, giving them power of attorney. In turn, these trusted individuals use the elderly person’s credit cards for their own benefit, clear out bank accounts or have the senior sign away real property and other assets to them. Nursing facilities may also charge for services, assistive devices and medications that are never ordered or delivered. If living alone, an elderly individual is susceptible to various scams on television, online ads or from con artists who call them on the phone and extract credit card, Social Security and bank account information from them.
Look for Signs of Abuse
Physical signs of abuse can be readily apparent when visiting your elderly loved one. As indicated, look for bruising, unexplained injuries and malnourishment. You can see if the room is clean, laundry is done and records show that proper medication is being administered. If your loved one is constantly ill, unusually depressed or fearful or has an infection, get immediate medical attention.
Psychological abuse can be witnessed by your loved one’s reaction to nursing home staff or by observing how staff talks to or treats other residents. Ask your loved one, if possible, about maltreatment or bullying, or talk to fellow residents who may be more mentally aware and can relate to you if your relative is not being treated well. Changes in mood, depression and anxiety that is unexpected are other signs of possible intimidating practices.
For financial matters, check your loved one’s assets including bank accounts and credit card statements for suspicious payments or charges. If it is apparent she or he is not receiving prescribed medications but are being charged, immediately see the supervisor.
Elder abuse is a tort and those who are responsible can be held civilly liable for any injuries that result. Contact an experienced elder abuse attorney if you suspect that your loved one has been victimized by the negligent or intentional actions of others.