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WV AG Morrisey Calls for Increased Awareness of Elder Abuse

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) - West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey recognizes Friday, June 15, as World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and urges everyone to play an active role in preventing the abuse, neglect and exploitation of senior citizens.  
 
The Attorney General’s Office recently incorporated an elder abuse litigation and prevention unit into its own list of resources for senior citizens. The unit strives to educate the public and eradicate all forms of abuse among the elderly population.
 
“While family members and friends do so much good looking out for the elderly, every now and then someone takes advantage of the situation,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “We must do everything in our power to hold accountable those who prey on the elderly and send a message that such practices will not be tolerated in the Mountain State.”
 
Elder abuse comes in many forms. Physical violence, financial theft, nursing home neglect and medical negligence are just a few serious issues that plague senior citizens.
 
Approximately 10 percent of persons age 60 and older have experienced some form of abuse or exploitation and it is estimated that as many as 5 million elderly adults suffer each year, according to national research.
 
Still, researchers believe many instances go unreported. It is of particular concern in West Virginia where U.S. Census estimates show persons 65 years and older account for 18.8 percent of the state’s population.
 
Loved ones should watch for these red flags of financial abuse.

  • Needs are not met by caregivers who have access to a senior’s finances.
  • Unexplained changes made in wills, power of attorney or bank accounts.
  • Suspicious changes to a senior’s financial condition.
  • Unusual wiring of money or purchase of multiple gift cards.
  • Presence of a stranger who begins a new relationship and offers to manage a senior’s finances.
  • Signatures on checks that do not match the senior’s handwriting.
  • The Attorney General’s elder abuse litigation and prevention unit includes a dedicated team of seasoned civil prosecutors to hold accountable anyone who intentionally causes harm to senior citizens.

 
Assistant attorneys general, both assigned to consumer protection and to represent other state agencies, work with those client agencies and county prosecutors to refer matters as appropriate, including instances of criminal conduct, guardianship and conservatorship, as well as acts involving nursing homes and hospitals.
 
Senior citizens in need of the unit’s expertise should contact the state Attorney General’s senior services and elder abuse hotline at 304-558-1155 or HelpForSeniors@wvago.gov.
 
The hotline is open for senior citizens and their loved ones. Those preferring traditional mail can reach the office at P.O. Box 1789, Charleston, WV 25326.
 
The unit’s scam alert database is also key in raising awareness of potential scams. Senior citizens and their loved ones can subscribe to the email alerts at http://bit.ly/SeniorScamAlert.


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