HELENA — Wednesday, June 15, is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. State and local officials held an event in Helena to raise awareness of the rising numbers of elder abuse in Montana.
The event, held at Bank of the Rockies, aimed to educate and inform people about elder abuse in all its forms. The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) says that there was a record number of elder abuse reports in 2021 in Montana, at 4,900 incidents. This was the 2nd year in a row that reached a record number of reported victims.
Many times, the abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation of the person is perpetrated by a trusted individual such as a friend or relative. One of the largest exploitation scams running is an imposter scam. These scams are perpetrated by those pretending to be someone they are not.
The biggest takeaway from the event was to speak up and report incidents or suspected incidents. The abuse that takes place often thrives in isolation and shame.
“If you do suspect something, I think the mantra here today has been if you see something say something. If you suspect something just get it reported. It’s best if it ends up being nothing, which happens sometimes than it being something and it was never reported,” says Trevor Tangen, Adult Protective Services bureau chief.
There are different agencies to which you can report incidents of abuse such as Adult Protective Services; the Office of Consumer Protection; and the Office of the Montana State Auditor, Commissioner of Securities and Insurance; depending on the type of abuse.
“People can help themselves and others most by refusing to stay quiet and make reports about consumer issues that they've encountered,” says Emily Nichols, Compliance Investigator for the Office of Consumer Protection.