Opioid Crisis Fueling Elder Abuse

Opioid Crisis Fueling Elder Abuse

The opioid crisis is fueling the problem of elder abuse, as adult children who are addicted to drugs exploit parents and other relatives, experts tell The Boston Globe.

In Massachusetts, reports of suspected elder abuse have increased 37 percent in the past five years. More adult children addicted to opioids are moving home with their elderly parents, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan.

These parents receive monthly Social Security checks. Some also receive pension checks. They can become targets of financial, physical and emotional abuse, the article notes.

Ryan said in the past month, her office has handled about 10 cases that involved grandchildren who allegedly stole money, silver and jewelry from their grandparents. The items often were pawned to buy drugs.

Ryan has begun advising first responders—police, firefighters and emergency medical service crews—to look for unusual bruising on the wrists and forearms of elderly people. These marks can be signs of a struggle. She also advises them to look in the refrigerator to see if there is enough food in the house, and to look in other rooms for signs of abuse.

Betsey Crimmins, a senior attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services, who specializes in elder abuse cases, launched an elder abuse prevention task force in 2014. She assumed financial exploitation would be their focus. “When we asked the elders in the meeting [about what they needed help with], they all said opioids, and my eyebrows shot up,” she said. “They identified an issue no one in the room thought to touch.”

The task force heard many stories of adult children addicted to opioids who moved back home and dealt drugs out of the house.

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