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Every year, older Americans lose an estimated $36.5 billion dollars to financial exploitation, abuse, and scams, which is destroying the security of older adults and their families. By the year 2030, 1 out of every 5 Hoosiers will be age 65 or older, according to population projections by the Indiana Business Research Center with the IU Kelly School of Business. Having so many older adults in the state of Indiana creates "a growing marketplace for those who may be looking to take advantage of vulnerable adults," says Chris Naylor, with the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council. That's why Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson has partnered with other experts in fraud prevention to form the Indiana Council Against Senior Exploitation, or IN-CASE.
"My office is already a leader in elder justice. The Indiana Securities Division protects Hoosier investors against securities fraud. With IN-CASE, we saw an opportunity to amplify our efforts by teaming up with others who are equally committed to protecting our state's senior citizens," says Secretary Lawson. In fact, in 2016 and 2017, the Indiana Secretary of State and the Indaina Securities Division worked with the Indiana General Assembly, Indiana Adult Protective Services, and industry professionals to pass senior savings protection legislation.
IN-CASE is a new statewide collaboration between dozens of organizations and individuals who are dedicated to the goal of preventing and ending all forms of senior exploitation and abuse. IN-CASE members include government agences, law enforcement, not-for-profits, medical providers, and legal providers. Here are some IN-CASE members:
- AARP Indiana
- Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana
- Indiana Alzheimer Disease Center
- Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging / Senior Medicare Patrol
- Indiana Family and Social Services Administration
- Office of the Indiana Attorney General
- Office of the Indiana Secretary of State
At IN-CASE, it's our mission to empower Indiana communities to prevent and end senior exploitation and abuse. All IN-CASE members agree to a "no closed door" approach - meaning if any one of us is approached with questions related to the abuse or exploitation of an elder, we are equipped to refer that person to the proper resource. The "Get Help" section of the IN-CASE website is a great starting point. Organizations listed there can provide information and resources if you or someone you know may be the victim of senior exploitation or abuse. So what are the risk factors and red flags?
- The victim has dementia
- The perpetrator and/or the victim has mental health and/or substance abuse issues
- The victim is socially isolated
- The victim is in poor physical health, which increases vulnerability and thereby may increase risk
- Sudden changes in the elder’s appearance: poor hygiene, dressed improperly for the weather, sunken eyes, bedsores, loss of weight.
- Sudden changes in the elder’s personality; increased or unreasonable levels of anxiety, fearfulness and/or depression.
- The elder becomes uncommunicative and unresponsive.
- Sudden or swift decline in the health; malnourishment or sudden loss of weight.
- Visible injury that has not been cared for, or cannot be explained with a realistic explanation.
- A change in routine, no longer attending events or participating in events enjoyed in the past.
- Social isolation/ not allowed to visit alone.
- Sudden loss of ability to meet financial obligations.
- Going without things the elder needs or has always had in the past.
- The elder states that they have had conflicts or problems with their caregiver and/or they use coded disclosures.
Many IN-CASE members, including the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State, have public speakers available. All IN-CASE speakers provide presentation services free of charge on a first come, first served basis. Visit the "Request a Speaker" page to find the email addresses of available speakers. Additionally, IN-CASE members organize many of our own events, and you can RSVP through the "Events" page of the IN-CASE website.