Webinar presenters Kimmy Moon and Eden Ruiz-Lopez answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Cultural Competence and Elder Abuse. Here are just a few of their responses.
Audience Question: Kimmy, Eden, what is the best way, if people are not able to get their questions in today. What’s the best way for them to be able to find answers to some of those questions?
Eden Ruiz-Lopez: That’s a good question. If they wanted to follow up with us through telephone and e-mail, that’s perfectly fine. Or, Aaron, if you and Chris actually want to send us, if there’s a way to pull out the questions with e-mails associated with the names, we would be glad to follow up with people, if some of the questions weren’t addressed.
Host: So, folks, if we don’t get to your question, feel free to e-mail me, email@example.com, I’ll forward your e-mail to Kimmy and Eden so that they can get through the questions.
Audience Question: Gwen says, I work often, with victims of romance scams. Do you have any assistance you can recommend to help them?
Eden Ruiz-Lopez: Yes. So that’s a really good question. We do have specific training modules where we can provide a presentation to staff or two members of the public if you would like that. I think that we have the training curricula posted to the Training Resources on Elder Abuse website, so I would also check there. We have fact sheets that talk about romance scams as well. And you can find those on our NCEA website, and they would fall under the Financial Exploitation section. So, if you’re having any trouble uncovering those based on the titles, feel free to reach out to us, and we’re happy to point you in the right direction.
Kimmy Moon: Thank you for that question. And I actually just want to add one point to that resource that Eden mentioned, we are about two years ago created a fact sheet on Sweethearts Scams specifically for LGBT elders. So again, that can be accessed through our website. And I’m going to actually find it and link it in the chatbox right now, “Looking for Love” version 1 and 2.
Audience Question: Most of the elderly abuse goes unreported because the elderly are either scared or frightened of retaliation what can be done to provide security to the elderly to come forward and report the abuse?
Eden Ruiz-Lopez: Wow, that’s a good question. I feel like it is a matter of letting older people know that there are resources and entities that are available to assist them. Breaking that cycle of isolation, there are programs that people could actually volunteer for to connect with isolated elders. For instance, I know with COVID-19, there are some members of our team who are involved in letter-writing campaigns and conducting telephone well checks. So, it’s all a matter of that older person reaching out for help. And if they aren’t able to reach out to help or to get help, of communicating with a trusted other so that they could get in contact and let people know they might be experiencing a situation, that may result in some form of abuse occurring. Kimmy, I don’t know if you have any more ideas to add on to that?
Kimmy Moon: I think, as we’ve mentioned throughout this presentation, social isolation is a huge risk factor. So, if we can have that one trusted communication channel open, where the older adult can safely seek out help and share information, that’d be great.
Audience Question: Do you have suggestions on how to intervene when an older adult is giving money to an adult child?
Eden Ruiz-Lopez: So that’s a good question, too. Oftentimes, we hear of these situations, and it kind of mirrors the statistics that we know, that financial exploitation is the most often reported form of abuse in tandem with neglect. And it really brings up, to my mind, the concept of self-determination and whether the older person is conscious of what they’re doing. It’s very hard to get involved in situations where an older person feels an obligation to take care of their loved one, and they are giving them money, according to their own free will. If there is a situation of exploitation happening, for instance, or guardians involved, and they’re, unfortunately, taking money from an older person, I feel like it’s best to always report those to entities that are able to assess and intervene. Like, getting in contact with the police, Adult Protective Services if someone’s in the community setting, or the long-term care ombudsmen for adults in long-term care settings to let authorities know that these allegations are concerning, and it might potentially be depleting someone’s life savings and impacting their well-being. I am trying to think about what else I might suggest in that situation. It just ties back to the fact that if an older person has the capacity and they could make decisions, they, have a right to give money away, even if it doesn’t necessarily serve in their best interests. But if there is someone who’s involved in that person’s life and there’s another actor that has authority over governing decisions for that person, then we have a problem.
Host: I did want to share a couple of really fantastic comments, and I’m probably not going to get some of their pronunciation correct, Marit suggested that “proper salutations are very important that no size fits all in the Hispanic culture.” And so, I thought I would share that I thought that’s really interesting, and Lauren also share that, “to increase understanding and awareness of Native and tribal issues and struggles. I highly encourage you to reach out to places like the Alaska Native Heritage Center to learn more.” So, I just wanted to share those really, really great comments, and appreciate everyone who has made those suggestions.
Audience Question: Can you give some suggestions on how to reach out to rural or sheriff’s offices, along with police departments to get on board with elder abuse organizations of all forms?
Eden Ruiz-Lopez: That’s a really good question. You know, there is a database online. I think it’s https://www.usacops.com/that has a full listing of all the police precincts in every single jurisdiction, every county, every commonwealth throughout the country. And in terms of really broaching the topic of elder abuse, I think it’s all a matter of building rapport with them and talking to them about why they should prioritize and be interested in elder abuse. And really making a connection to either pull in another party who’s capable of providing elder abuse, awareness presentations. Or if there’s someone in your organization or office who would be willing to do that and just really sitting down and have a conversation about what your concerns are, what it is that you’re witnessing, and really building relationships with law enforcement. I know it can be challenging, especially in rural areas, because they’re thinking about, I don’t know, remote counties in the mid-west and north-east. I know that, like, social service workers and police will be in charge of the county, where potentially it takes two hours to travel to the other side. And we think about areas like Alaska where people have to take little planes to jump around to other islands just to investigate allegations that are brought to their attention. It’s very complex. So, the way that we always approach it is just education, forming relationships and communicating with people that you wouldn’t otherwise communicate with. Just maybe picking up the phone, having a conversation with the police. Pulling in other organizations who would be willing to collaborate on some sort of training and education. Just offering that source in the event that people don’t necessarily have the financial means to spearhead these types of divisions or departments or have investigators on board that can look into elder abuse. It just really all starts by communication and education.
Kimmy Moon: I just want to mention, one resource that I dropped into the chatbox too. In 2018, the US DOJ, and the Department of Agriculture got together and launched this Rural and Tribal Elder Justice Resource Guide That’ll give you a lot of pointers when you are introducing the topic to those who are you’re trying to connect with.
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