BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was created to help the public flag abusive behavior toward seniors and watch for signs elders may be getting taken advantage of.
“The areas in which elder abuse tends to happen are in financial abuse which can happen with something as simple as a bank account or their Medicare account," Denise LaBuda, director of communications for the Council on Aging for Central Oregon, said Tuesday.
LaBuda said her organization's goal is to help seniors navigate the path of aging, but they also like to keep an eye out and report any issues or behavior’s toward elders that seem abnormal.
"If we learn of something that we feel is not necessarily quite right, we then pass that referral information on to the adult referral services organization in whatever town we are in, and those people then take that case and move it to where it needs to go," LaBuda said.
Experts believe that elder abuse is significantly under-reported, in part because so many communities lack the social supports that would make it easier for those who experience abuse to report it.
Deschutes County Deputy District Attorney Matthew Nelson said a multi-disciplinary team was created to help combat the issue. It’s made up of various law enforcement and social service agencies.
"If there's an ongoing scam, and someone has seen this that works at DHS but it hasn't necessarily been referred to an agency, or maybe to has but simply just to the Bend Police Department, but not the Redmond Police Department, this is a chance for us to talk about that and fill in those gaps," Nelson said.
The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services says a few signs to watch out that might indicate elder abuse include:
-A new and over-protective friend or caregiver, especially if the senior is considering surrendering financial control to the person
-A lack of knowledge about financial status or reluctance to discuss financial matters from an elder
-Suspicious signatures on the senior's checks or other documents
"If you do notice anything suspicious with one of your neighbors who's a senior or someone who's a coworker that doesn't seem to make sense, just make a call to Adult Protective Services and put the information in their hands," LaBuda said. "So someone who's skilled -- this is their work -- can follow up and make sure everything is okay, or help intervene if its not."