Helping America's Most Vulnerable

Protecting Seniors Like Ms. Cecilia

Ms. Cecilia, an 84-year-old widow, lives alone. She loves children, and though she had none of her own, she cared for many nieces and nephews and is a valued person in their lives.

When she began needing help with tasks such as grocery shopping and banking, a neighbor offered to help. This seemed to work well, until the day Ms. Cecilia called her niece in tears. She said her light bill hadn’t been paid, and there was no food in the house. About the same time, Volunteers of America’s Elderly Protective Services program received an anonymous call alerting them that Ms. Cecilia was being financially exploited.

For many years, Elderly Protective Services has investigated and remedied all kinds of abuse to seniors--physical, financial, sexual, self-neglect, caregiver neglect and abandonment. Sadly, only one in five cases of elder abuse is reported.

Our staff found that Ms. Cecilia’s neighbor was no friend. She was stealing her Social Security checks and funds supposedly used to pay bills. Volunteers of America brought in law enforcement to deal with the neighbor. Ms. Cecilia’s family stepped in to help her get back on track. As this story shows, senior abuse can occur without the family’s knowledge.

Volunteers of America works to keep every senior safe.