The Senior$afe Initiative

~ By Gerald Rome, Colorado Securities Commissioner ~

On June 16, the Colorado Division of Securities will again be participating in World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This initiative, hosted by the National Adult Protective Services Association, was formed in 2015 to help call attention to the ever-growing issue of elder abuse and financial exploitation, and to provide resources to organizations, caregivers, family members, and elders themselves to fight these crimes.

Gerald Rome, Colorado Securities Commissioner

Gerald Rome, Colorado Securities Commissioner

Recent surveys have determined that around 10,000 people are turning 65 every day in the United States. Our population is aging rapidly, and the 65 plus generation hold more financial wealth than any other group. But this also makes them a target of financial scams and frauds. These days many seniors rely on individual family caretakers, hired caregivers, or assisted living/nursing facilities as they age rather than family based communities. Because of this change, we’ve determined that caring for the elderly population requires a community-based approach where all are responsible to watch out for and care for our seniors.

In this spirit, my office has joined with other states to introduce a program called Senior$afe in Colorado. Senior$afe’s aim is to create a protective community network that will look out for the welfare of our seniors. The Division is currently working to expand our partnerships with organizations that provide services and benefits for seniors, in order to create a network of providers that can work together to assist seniors who may be facing abuse or exploitation.

Additionally, together with the Colorado Divisions of Banking and Financial Services, we are beginning a series of trainings that will teach financial professionals, from advisers to bank tellers, how to recognize red flags associated with elder abuse and exploitation, and to provide them with the resources to report or assist seniors in reporting these crimes. Finally, we want to provide seniors themselves with the tools they need to recognize the red flags of financial scams, and easy avenues to report potential issues.

Heading into this month, you can take a moment to measure your own vulnerability to financial exploitation by answering these simple questions:

  • Have you recently lost a spouse or partner, or do you feel socially isolated?
  • Are you financially responsible for an adult child, grandchild, or other family member?
  • Have you had a recent change in physical or mental health? Do you feel more depressed than usual?
  • Are you noticing frequent mistakes in how you handle finances, or are you feeling overwhelmed by managing your household budget or investments?
  • Are you anxious about your finances?
  • Do you attend “free lunch” seminars or speak to telemarketers when they call?
  • Are you feeling pressure from family members or caregivers to share money or change your will?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be at a greater risk for financial exploitation. To learn more, or to report potential abuses, contact the Division of Securities by calling 303-894-2320. We are here to help!