Ben Marshall and Amber Elder are Options Counselors with Tri-County Health Network. In this role, they work to help older adults remain independent and maintain their dignity as they age in Ouray, West Montrose, and San Miguel Counties. Both understand too well the limited resources and challenges of aging in our rural or frontier communities and face uphill battles as needs continue to grow and resources stay stagnant.
Sadly, our limited resources also bring opportunities for neglect, whether malicious or accidental, and many times elder abuse continues to go unnoticed. Tri-County Health Network, in partnership with Region 10 Area Agency on Aging and San Miguel Resource Center are a few local resources that can help if you or someone you know may be a victim of Elder Abuse.
Elder Abuse is not just isolated to our rural regions. It is everywhere! 1 in 10 adults suffer from Elder abuse worldwide. Anything that results in physical, psychological or sexual harm, neglect (self-neglect or by a caregiver), or financial exploitation of vulnerable older people is considered elder abuse. These issues are dramatically underreported and easy to mask for many perpetrators, especially those close to the victim. Most abuses relate to financial exploitation as many can fall for confusing ploys to “get rich quick” or false medical enrollment forms that collect personal information. It is estimated that Elder abuse and fraud costs older Americans $36.5 billion annually! Financial crimes targeting seniors are now considered the “crime of the 21st century.”
More drastic and life-threatening abuses can also happen. Caregivers struggle to handle the challenging responsibilities associated with the conditions faced by their loved ones or they live too far away to care for them on a regular basis. Cognitive disabilities, like dementia and physical disabilities, add to other challenges, like financial stress, geographic isolation, unemployment and much more. Over time this added stress can result in neglect and lead to elder abuse.
Elder abuse is incredibly common to be overlooked and go unreported. Caregivers who intentionally target loved ones for financial gain typically have immense power over the senior’s decision making and ability to report an issue. It is no wonder that homebound or disabled seniors can be easy targets, especially in their final years. For every 1 reported case of elder abuse, 5 others go unreported. Elder abuse can have devastating consequences—older adults who have been abused have a 300% higher risk of death in their next 3 years compared to those who were not abused!
If you or anyone you know is a victim of elder abuse or neglect help is available, please call and report suspected abuse. Educate others in the fight against elder abuse and promote a community of support in our rural/frontier region.
- Emergency Services: 911
- Tri-County Health Network at 970-708-7096
- Region 10 Area Agency on Aging 970-249-2436
- The San Miguel Resource Center at 844-816-3915