Financial exploitation of older adults is a growing issue – and the Cambridge Elder Abuse Prevention Coalition (CEAPC) raised awareness on the topic by hosting a recent forum for local bankers.
Hosted in collaboration with the Arlington Elder Abuse Task Force, the forum focused on how community awareness and collaboration play a major part in preventing financial exploitation of elders. Over 40 bankers were in attendance, in addition to CEAPC and community members.
Norah al-Wetaid, Senior Protective Services Worker at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) and CEAPC member, said it was a great turnout.
“We were all so happy to see such a great turnout with so many banks represented,” said al-Wetaid. “Banks and bankers are often the first line of defense when it comes to financial exploitation and are in a unique situation to observe elders’ interactions with loved ones.”
Jonathon Fielding of the Executive Office of Elder Affairs gave an overview of elder financial exploitation for participants. He outlined a collaborative approach to identify financial exploitation, which is called the Massachusetts Bank Reporting Project. The project is a public-private partnership that started in 1996 and provides resources and training materials to participating banks. As part of the program, banks are educated on the warning signs of financial exploitation and they develop protocols for addressing and reporting concerns.
Other speakers included Marian Ryan, District Attorney of Middlesex County; Fred Ryan, Chief of Police of Arlington; Susan Carp, Executive Director of the Arlington Council on Aging; and Susan Pacheco, Executive Director of the Cambridge Council on Aging. Each speaker demonstrated how spreading information, increasing awareness, and forming partnerships can prevent elder abuse.
“Susan Pacheco raised a great point about the need for cross-city collaborations, due to the ways that scammers operate,” said al-Wetaid. “The estimate that elders lose $2.9 billion annually to financial abuse and exploitation is staggering. Raising awareness, developing relationships, spreading information about resources and having open communication between cities, banks and community providers are all means of preventing elders from slipping through the cracks.”
SCES recently facilitated an awareness campaign, with the goals of encouraging discussion and helping people learn about common warning signs of elder abuse. To report suspected elder abuse, contact Protective Services at SCES by calling 617-628-2601 during normal business houses. At all other times, please use the Elder Abuse Hotline (1-800-922-2275).
By Colleen Morrissey
Sources: Mass.gov, The Elder Abuse Prevention Project of Greater Boston Legal Services
SCES is a member of the Cambridge Elder Abuse Prevention Coalition, which provides education, outreach and prevention resources in Cambridge. For more info about the coalition, contact Susan Pacheco at 617-349-6220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.