ST. GEORGE – Utah seniors are exploited out of at least $7.7 million each year, with the average victim losing just over $85,000. But these types of crimes can and should be prevented, and Utah has been proactively working with financial institutions, seniors and caregivers to do just that.
On Friday, Jilenne Gunther, legal enforcement counsel for the Utah Division of Aging and Adult Services, attended a symposium focused on preventing financial exploitation of seniors with leaders from across the nation at United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
“The fact that the symposium is held on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is no coincidence,” Gunther said.
While Gunther represented this issue on the national level, multiple law enforcement, legal, health, social work and financial professionals from across Utah came together for the 2013 Elder Abuse Conference Thursday at the Utah Valley Convention Center. Among conference topics were the signs of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, prevention strategies and effective interventions.
It is recommended that Utah seniors and their caregivers take advantage of the free guide, “Navigating Your Rights: The Utah Legal Guide for Those 55 and Over.” A second edition of the guide will soon be released and will include information about the Affordable Care Act and avoiding investment scams. Individuals interested in learning about how they can help prevent elder abuse, neglect or exploitation or obtaining a free copy of Legal Guide 55 can call 877-424-4640.
The toll-free statewide phone number for reporting elder abuse, neglect or exploitation is 800-371-7897.
Southern Utah resources, including in-home services, caregiver support, transportation, Meals on Wheels and events at senior centers, can be obtained by calling the Five County Association of Governments Aging Services Division at 435-673-3548.
Submitted by: Elizabeth Sollis