The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 15, 2013

Elderly lose more than money to scammers

Victims often retreat from family, friends

By Joanne Arbogast
The Daily Item

SUNBURY — The National Center on Elder Abuse has identified a phenomenon among seniors it calls “vicarious victimization” — someone who has not been a victim or near-victim of a scam but fears becoming one.

June 15 was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. The Administration on Aging estimates that as many as 5 million seniors are abused — not just physically, but also financially and psychologically — each year in the United States.

In its Senior Fraud Protection Kit pamphlet, Home Instead Senior Care warns families to be on the lookout for their older family members, especially those living on their own, who may feel threatened by scammers and are changing their lifestyle, closing themselves off from society.

Signs of vicarious victimization can include abandoning friends and no longer going shopping or to church. By staying inside with the television on, the pamphlet notes, “they may see the world in a warped perspective.”

Home Instead lists the following ways crime can impact the elderly:

n Inability to recover financially. If they lose money from a scam, robbery or burglary, they often struggle even more if they are living on a fixed income.

n Diminished quality of life. Inability to recover, worrying about the likelihood it will happen again and regretting the consequences of making a poor decision may drive victims to become reclusive, embarrassed and distressed, and suffer from poor self-confidence.

n Physical and emotional. They may recuperate more slowly and show a weakness in fighting what could become life-threatening illnesses.

n Loss of independence. Studies have shown that crime is the catalyst that can bring an end to emotional and financial independence and shorten the lives and lifespan of seniors.

To receive a Senior Fraud Protection Kid, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office or visit


“Protecting Your Loves Ones,” a seminar on scams that target older people, will be presented at 6 p.m. June 27 at the Pine Barn Inn, Danville.

The event will be presented by Dave Shope, Service 1st security specialist, and Richard Scheib, attorney.

Topics to be covered include “How to Protect Your Identity and Those You Love,” “How to Avoid Scams and Fraudulent Schemes” and “How to Identify Elder Financial Abuse.”

Seating is limited and reservations are required by June 24. To reserve a spot, call (570) 271-7597.