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Minn. Database Indicates Senior Citizen Abuse Cases Have Increased

Photo: KSTP-TV

KSTP TV - More and more Minnesotans over the age of 65 are becoming the victims of financial or physical senior citizen abuse according to a state database.

We combed through data from the Minnesota Department of Human Services website that showed, in the last two years, reports of allegations of financial exploitation and caregiver neglect increased over the previous year involving residents over the age of 65.

"Sometimes the penalties for stealing under this are much less than going in and robbing a local gas station," Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo said. "It's frustrating."

Most of the senior citizen abuse cases that come across the desk of prosecutors in Anoka County involve a relationship between the suspect and the victim.

"You have the reluctance of the victim sometimes, to want to prosecute they just want it to stop but they don't want their loved to go to jail,” Palumbo said.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that research indicates that people with dementia are at greater risk of senior citizen abuse than those without. Close to half of all people over 85, the fastest growing segment of our population, have Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of dementia.

Anoka County obtained a federal grant that is used in part to train first responders to look for the signs of senior citizen abuse when they arrive at a scene.

Palumbo often speaks to groups about senior citizen abuse in the community in which he says there are three questions you should ask a person you suspect is being abused: Is someone hurting you? Are you afraid of someone? Is someone taking your money without your permission?

State data showed in 2013, 19,371 reports of allegations of caregiver neglect and financial exploitation took place in Minnesota. In 2014, 20,087 incidents were reported to the state involving residents over the age of 65.

On July 1, Minnesota launched a new Adult Abuse Reporting Center that is now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for mandated reporters to alert the state to abuse allegations.

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