Preventing financial abuse should be priority, ALFA says

James Balda, president and CEO, Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA)Preventing the financial exploitation of older adults should be a top priority of governmental leaders and others, Assisted Living Federation of America President and CEO James Balda told the Senate Special Committee on Aging in submitted comments.

Our nation’s seniors deserve independence, dignity, choice and a high quality of life,  he said. Financial exploitation can take that all away too quickly, leaving older adults with little time to recoup their losses. We believe the nation must focus on this issue to stem the tide of financial mistreatment of seniors.

Elder justice is one of four topic areas on which the White House Conference on Aging (WHCOA) is focusng (the others are retirement security, healthful aging and long-term services and supports), and financial abuse is the fastest-growing type of elder abuse, Kathy Greenlee, assistant secretary for aging and administrator of community living for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a Feb. 11 webinar hosted by the conference. Balda made his remarks before the conference’s first regional event Feb. 19 in Tampa, Fla. The topic also is expected to be on the agenda when the conference holds its next regional event, March 31 in Phoenix.

About 40 percent of assisted living residents have dementia, and scammers can still reach residents through phone calls, mail or via email, Balda said. More startling is that more than 90 percent of all reported elder abuse is committed by a senior’s own family members.

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