By Lois Jasmer, Director of Corporate Relations
Loneliness is real. I found this to be truer than ever this week as I helped a senior gentleman. Let’s call him Larry. Larry is a widower of about 10 years. He was only in his mid-60s when his wife passed away and he was still fairly vibrant. He and the neighbor lady, whom had lost her husband as well, became great friends and eventually moved in together, and he sold his home. Larry being a kind compassionate man, took care of everything around the place. After only a couple of years the neighbor lady, now his partner, became very ill and passed away as well. Now being in his later 70’s, and with many health problems himself, Larry became very depressed and lonely.
Larry started drinking to dull the pain of his loss and loneliness. He stopped taking his medications and using his oxygen as he should. His health began to decline rapidly and his judgement was compromised. One day Larry met a young woman in her late 30s at the local store. Being the ladies’ man he is, Larry began to flirt with this young lady. In no time he was sharing way too much information with this stranger. The young woman, being morally compromised, befriended Larry and began to take advantage of him. Larry was so flattered that this woman would spend time with him and have any sort of relationship with him that he began to offer her money. Over time he was so lonely and depressed he started offering to take care of the young lady and her children if she would be his girlfriend and marry him.
This young woman started seeing Larry on a regular basis and asked for money to buy an engagement ring. She never bought the ring. Larry pays her rent because he believes she loves him and yet knows she has boyfriend. Larry’s loneliness, drinking, and self-neglect compromise his ability to make sound decisions.
Larry is not the only older adult being preyed on by unscrupulous individuals. I have dealt with caregivers who have been located on the internet that rob and steal drugs from seniors. Men and women that have befriended a senior, and then manipulated them into leaving all their wealth to them, steal from them and abuse them. If you think this isn’t real and that seniors aren’t better off in a safe protected environment within the walls of an assisted living, think again. Living in an assisted living community helps keep a vulnerable senior safe, with a family of staff watching over them, as well as others their age to engage with if they choose to do so.
If you see anything you think may be Elder Abuse call the DSHS Hotline at 866-363-4276.