In recent years, there has been a concerning increase in senior citizen suicides, highlighting the urgent need for awareness, understanding, and preventive measures.
Recently the National Institute for Health Care Management released a study that shows a 11% rise in Senior Citizen related suicide.
This blog post aims to shed light on this issue, exploring the reasons behind the rise in senior citizen suicides over the last year and emphasizing the importance of collective efforts to prevent such tragedies.
Reasons for the Rise:
1. Social Isolation: The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated social isolation among seniors. Lockdowns, social distancing measures, and fear of the virus have led to increased feelings of loneliness and disconnection, contributing to a decline in mental health.
2. Health Challenges: Seniors often face various health issues, both physical and mental. Chronic pain, illness, and the side effects of medication can lead to a diminished quality of life, fostering feelings of hopelessness and despair.
3. Financial Stress: Economic uncertainties, rising healthcare costs, and inadequate retirement savings can create significant financial stress for seniors. The fear of becoming a burden on family members or facing poverty in old age may contribute to suicidal thoughts.
4. Loss and Grief: The loss of a spouse, friends, or family members, coupled with the challenges of adjusting to life changes, can be overwhelming for seniors. Grief and feelings of loneliness can trigger depression, making them more susceptible to suicidal ideation.
5. Access to Lethal Means: Seniors often have easier access to lethal means, such as prescription medications or firearms. This increased accessibility can contribute to a higher risk of successful suicide attempts.
1. Community Engagement: Establishing community programs that promote social engagement among seniors can help combat isolation. Regular social activities, support groups, and community events can create a sense of belonging and purpose. The Adult Resource Alliance of Yellowstone County has a list of programs in their bi-monthly Prime Connections Magazine. https://allianceyc.org/prime-connections-your-senior-news/
2. Mental Health Support: Prioritize mental health initiatives for seniors, including accessible counseling services and mental health awareness campaigns. Encouraging open conversations about mental health reduces stigma and encourages seeking help. Seniors in our county can connect with 3 free counseling sessions for crisis issues by contacting either Big Sky Senior Services 406-259-3111 or the Adult Resource Alliance.
3. Financial Education and Assistance: Providing resources for financial education and assistance can alleviate the economic stress faced by seniors. This may include workshops on budgeting, access to financial advisors, and support programs for those struggling financially.
4. Grief Counseling Services: Offering grief counseling services can help seniors cope with loss and navigate the emotional challenges associated with aging. These services can provide a crucial support system during difficult times.
5. Restricting Access to Lethal Means: Implementing measures to restrict seniors' access to lethal means, such as secure medication storage and firearm safety education, can reduce the likelihood of impulsive acts.
The rise in senior citizen suicides is a complex issue with various contributing factors. It is crucial for our community to recognize the challenges faced by seniors and work collaboratively to implement preventive measures. By fostering a culture of support, understanding, and empathy, we can make strides toward ensuring the mental well-being and safety of our elderly population. Together, let us strive to create a society where every senior citizen feels valued, connected, and supported.
As the holiday season approaches, it becomes imperative to shed light on the significance of protecting our seniors from potential scams and elder abuse. The festive period, marked by generosity and warmth, unfortunately, also opens the door to opportunistic fraudsters preying on vulnerable individuals, particularly seniors.
Elderly individuals are often targeted due to their perceived trusting nature and potential unfamiliarity with evolving scam tactics. Holiday scams can take various forms, from fake charity solicitations to deceptive online shopping schemes. These scams not only pose a financial threat but can also have severe emotional and psychological consequences for seniors.
By emphasizing the importance of avoiding holiday scams, we aim to empower seniors and their caregivers with knowledge and awareness. Understanding common scam tactics enables seniors to identify red flags and take proactive measures to protect themselves. Encouraging open communication within families and communities is crucial, as it fosters an environment where seniors feel comfortable reporting suspicious activities.
We encourage you to learn more about holiday scams by listening to this podcast from AARP:
Statement they sign off on:
If your response to any of these questions is “yes”, please consider the following:
Verify you personally know the individual you are sending to or can confirm the legitimacy of the
business you are sending to.
· Scammers often impersonate friends or family members. Verify that the person you’re communicating
with truly is your friend or family member.
· Review the transaction and any concerns you have with your financial institution representative.
Fraud prevention is important for everyone, but especially for seniors who may be more vulnerable to scams and financial exploitation. This is especially relevant in the context of cryptocurrencies, which are still relatively new and can be confusing for those who are not familiar with them.
There are several ways that seniors can protect themselves from crypto-related fraud. Firstly, they should be cautious of unsolicited phone calls or emails that ask for personal information or investment opportunities. These are often scams designed to steal money or sensitive information.
Secondly, seniors should educate themselves on the basics of cryptocurrencies and how they work. This can help them to recognize when something seems too good to be true. Additionally, they should be aware of common scams in the crypto world, such as Ponzi schemes and fake new crypto currencies.
Finally, seniors should consider using a trusted financial advisor or investment professional when making decisions related to cryptocurrencies. These professionals can offer guidance and help seniors make informed decisions about their investments.
In summary, seniors can protect themselves from crypto-related fraud by being cautious of unsolicited communications, educating themselves on cryptocurrencies, and seeking professional advice when needed.
Our friends at the FBI have begun to place these warnings on crytpocurrency ATMs. We encourage people placing these ATMs in their businesses to be sure to place these warnings to prevent senior abuse and fraud.
Today Susan Bivens shared her story to the Governor's Conference on Aging for the State of Montana. She lost nearly $240,000 to a scammer that had convinced her that they were law enforcement and other government agencies. The scariest part was the scammers could actually track her leaving her home with her cell phone.
Before you say it might not happen to you or a loved one, remember that Susan is a smart and intelligent and connected human. She was a nurse and served her community for years. She has a great family. The scammers convinced her that telling anyone would get her in trouble. They used fear to trap her.
Best rule, if someone is asking for money that you don't know: Tell a trusted friend and talk it through with them.
Don't get trapped by fear, remember you are not alone. Contact someone you trust or give us a call at Big Sky Senior Services if you fear you are a victim of abuse. 406-259-3111
Read more about Susan here:
Hang up and tell a friend. Great advice from the FTC on tech support scams.
It happens frequently. A person gets a call, "I found your information online, and I think we are meant to be together. Call me and we can arrange how to connect." Then if the person is lonely enough they follow through, the person sounds convincing and everything they have ever desired. Usually, they live a world away, but the attention is nice. So, the victim sends just a little bit of money, then more and more to keep the attention coming. It doesn't feel quite right, but it helps with the loneliness. Then the person asks for a lot of money and to keep the attention the victim sends what could be there life savings.
70,000 people fell for romance scams in the US in 2022 and losses were nearly $1.3 Billion.
Hang up. Tell a friend. The reality is, this person does not care about you and friends do. Talk with them, find people who can support you and if you need more help call a local senior center.
Romance scammers just want to curb your loneliness for your cash, don't let them get it for fake connection. If you need local connection contact a local non-profit and ask where activities are happening in your community.
Learn more at: https://consumer.ftc.gov/features/pass-it-on/impersonator-scams/romance-scams
Pass it on and tell a friend about Romance scams.
Social Security scams are on the rise again. Scammers know that people on social security have a monthly resource, are nervous about losing it, and often the process of social security is confusing. Many of us have gotten the scam calls, "Social Security will suspend your benefits unless you call this number back immediately."
Don't get caught in this, never call back a number in a voicemail unless you are expecting the call. And if you ever doubt it, look it up online and go to the official site for social security to get your number. You worked hard for that money, and you deserve not to have someone trick you in to giving it to them.
Check out this great article from caregiver.com to learn more on how to avoid Social Security Scams - https://caregiver.com/articles/social%20-security-scammers/
Thanks to Stockman Bank and the Montana Attorney General for speaking to this issue today at a press conference at Stockman Bank.
Elder Abuse is a public health issue. It is a public health issue that impacts our grandmothers, and our grandfathers, our mothers and our dads. It steals their livelihood and hard work and diminishes their quality of life causing untold health problems and mental health issues in our communities.
Elder Abuse takes away from so many people that which with they have worked their lives for. In some cases this is verbal, emotional, neglect or other forms of abuse that we can see having a physical and emotional toll on our seniors. These issues can be tackled through continued work in our community through education and direct intervention supports that can support our senior community members.
Montana Adult Protective Services has 32 investigators that cover all 56 counties in Montana.
APS has 5 Central Intake workers processing reports received by our agency and 5 Social Services Workers that monitor State appointed guardianship cases and provide follow up on investigations closed with referrals for services. 7 of these last 10 positions are grant funded.
In 2022, APS completed 5,374 investigations of adult maltreatment. APS served over 4,300 later in life adults that were reported victims of alleged maltreatment. APS provided information and referrals to over 2,700 individuals, and provided guardianship oversight to over
Adult Maltreatment is widespread. It is estimated that
approximately 1 out of every 10 elders has experienced abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Elder abuse is significantly under-identified and underreported.
One of the main areas that seniors are taken advantage of is through financial exploitation.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported this for 2022 related to fraud and financial exploitation:
Scammers took a LOT of money. The latest FTC data book says people reported losing $8.8 billion to scams. That’s $2.6 billion more than 2021. Except the number of reports are down by half a million.
We take this exploitation seriously, and unfortunately our law enforcement and prosecution divisions are outpaced by a multi-billion dollar fraud industry. We will need to increase our efforts tenfold in prosecution and enforcement in order to even keep up with this fraud industry. We likely will have to get incredibly creative with our prosecutions and have much more public cases to make a dent in their profits.
It takes a community and a village to care for our seniors and the population is growing rapidly. To keep Montana a safe and loving place for them to live we have work to do.
On behalf of Big Sky Senior Services and our partners in this work, thank you for taking time today to recognize world elder abuse awareness day. Especially on behalf of our grandparents and our parents who we are protecting.
Executive Director, Big Sky Senior Services
Big Sky Senior Services' program the Prevention of Elder Abuse seeks to provide information to prevent fraud and abuse for Seniors in our community. It is our belief that preventing abuse and fraud leads to independence and better health.