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Support for the elderly

Support for the elderly

Elderly people often have a remarkable amount of life experience. In spite of this, aging often brings challenges caused by, for example, health or memory problems. Elderly people may need support to manage at home or with information technology. 

Unfortunately, criminals sometimes show up on elderly people’s doorstep with dishonest intentions. The abuser can also be someone who’s supposed to be a caregiver.

 

Mistreatment / economic abuse of the elderly

Abuse directed at elderly people refers to an act or omission in a close relationship which endangers an elderly person’s well-being, safety or health.

In general, abuse means physical and/or mental violence, sexual abuse, economic abuse, neglect of care and assistance or other limitation of rights of people over 65 years old, insulting behaviour and treatment impairing an elderly person’s dignity.

The abuse can occur in a couple, family or close relationship, in which case it occurs in a close relationship. It can also be found in a medical treatment relationship as poor and unethical treatment.

The abuse can also be structural, in which case the elderly face, for example, ageism or refusal of services from the society and service system.

An elderly person can be exploited financially

Financial abuse refers to mistreatment of an elderly person by using, selling or destroying their money or other property (such as objects, shares, apartment or drugs) without their permission.
Financial abuse involves various levels of blackmail to get an elderly person’s money or other property by, for example, threatening with violence, neglect of care or abandoning.

The criteria for financial abuse are fulfilled if the goodwill, helplessness, trust or judgment impaired by an illness of an elderly person are exploited for the purpose of obtaining a financial benefit.

What to do if you suspect an elderly person is being mistreated?

  • If an elderly person’s treatment or care worries you, contact the service provider.
  • The Regional State Administrative Agencies and Valvira monitor health care activities and give additional information about filing a complaint, for example.
  • If you suspect a crime, report it to the police.
  • If the situation is urgent, call 112.

Elderly people as victims of fraud

Anyone can become the victim of fraud, but especially elderly people face a high risk. Criminals aim to take advantage of illnesses that affect a person’s judgment, and look for elderly people in a vulnerable situation. 

The scam can start, for example, with an elderly person replying to a fraudster’s message. After that, he/she may continue to get fraud messages and phone calls that ask for money.

How are elderly people tricked?

  • The scams may occur on the internet, by telephone or by post, and there can be various lottery prizes and fundraising involved. 
  • By posing as police officers, fraudsters may try to get a hold of online banking or payment card codes.
  • Elderly people may be targeted by improper marketing more often than others. They may be offered, for example, expensive and completely unnecessary product packages by telephone. On the other hand, criminals may offer services, such as repairs, door-to-door to elderly people more often than to others. The scam may involve exaggerating the difficulty and costs of the work.

Although there’s a lot of good on the internet, remember that there are fraudsters too. Fraudsters find it easy to exploit elderly people’s insufficient competence in, for example, email use. It’s easy to lure the victim by email to give a credit card number and other personal information. 

Prevent scams targeted at elderly people

As a relative, friend or neighbour, you are able to prevent a scam or other crime targeted at someone close to you. It’s advisable to keep in touch to elderly relatives or support elderly people you know in other ways.

  • Give tips about scam characteristics.
  • Remind them that they shouldn’t give their bank codes or information to anyone.
  • Tell them how to recognize a real police officer.
  • Remind them that they shouldn’t open the door to strangers. 
  • Mention that the police, other authorities or bank employees never ask for anyone’s banking codes by telephone, email or at the door.
  • Tell them how to get help when necessary. Keep reminding the elderly person about the emergency number 112.
  • Be interested in an elderly dear one’s affairs and ask how they are doing
  • If you suspect a crime, report it to the police.

An elderly person missing?

It causes a lot of worry if an elderly person disappears. Memory loss diseases, for example, are very common, and missing elderly people are often reported to the police. Especially in the autumn, an elderly person may go into the woods to pick berries and overestimate their strength or get lost. Searching for missing persons is included in the duties of the police. 

When an elderly person you know doesn’t return home and you can’t reach him/her

Call 112. The police start searching for the person as soon as the missing person is known to be unable to take care of him/herself or there is a threat to life and health. If necessary, the police cooperates with other authorities, and, for example, voluntary rescue services in the search. 

Make it easier to find your loved one:

  • Guide the elderly person in using and carrying a mobile phone.
  • If they have a smart phone, download the 112 Suomi application and give guidance in its use.
  • Switch a positioning application on in the smart phone and make sure you can see the location data yourself.
  • Attach information to the clothing, wallet or other place of an elderly person suffering from memory loss to help the police in identifying him/her. 
  • If possible, monitor the elderly person’s movements. When he/she goes into the woods to pick berries, ask them to notify you about it and the planned route. 

Kuinka toimia en

Prevent a crime from happening – see Police videos describing various hoaxes (in Finnish)