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Kathryn Carley, Producer
Monday, August 28, 2023
New Hampshire officials in charge of investigating elder abuse are ramping up staff and education efforts to better protect the state’s growing elderly population.
Statistics show that one-in-ten older people are the victims of financial exploitation, abuse or neglect each year in the U.S. – but few cases are actually reported to authorities.
Bryan Townsend II is the senior assistant attorney general and a prosecutor with the New Hampshire Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau’s Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation Unit.
Townsend said prosecutors will work more closely with local law enforcement, the medical community, and even financial advisors.
“We’re looking kind of at a holistic kind of approach at protecting older adults,” said Townsend, “and in doing so we really need to strengthen our partnership collaboration.”
Townsend said the state aims to expand education efforts regarding the signs of abuse and neglect, and how to protect one’s personal and financial information.
New Hampshire law requires anyone who suspects a person is financially vulnerable to exploitation, being abused, or neglected – to report their observations to police or state agencies.
Townsend said red flags often include someone having trouble managing their daily affairs or becoming increasingly isolated.
“They start to not return telephone calls or not answer the door when you come over,” said Townsend. “Changes in behavior.”
Townsend said elderly people can fall victim to international financial scams – but often its family members or friends, who use their position of trust to steal from them.
He said educating the public will help officials not only investigate and punish those responsible for elder abuse but also prevent it.