Harassment and stalking can happen to anyone, regardless of their age. Unfortunately, elder adults are often targeted because they may be more vulnerable and have limited support systems. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of elder abuse, including harassment and stalking. In New York, these crimes are taken seriously, and there are steps you can take to protect yourself or an elder adult you know.
What is Elder Harassment and Stalking?
Elder harassment and stalking involve repeated and unwanted behavior that causes fear or distress to an elder adult. This behavior can come from a family member, caregiver, neighbor, or stranger. Examples of elder harassment and stalking include:
- Threats or intimidation
- Following an elder adult or showing up at their home unannounced
- Unwanted phone calls, text messages, or emails
- Sending unwanted gifts or letters
- Vandalizing or damaging the elder adult’s property
- Cyberstalking, including monitoring their online activity
These behaviors can have a significant impact on the elder adult’s mental and physical health and can cause them to feel isolated and afraid.
Steps to Protect Elder Adults
If you or an elder adult you know is experiencing harassment or stalking, there are steps you can take to protect them:
1. Seek Help: The first step is to seek help from law enforcement, adult protective services, or a social worker. They can assist in filing a report, getting a restraining order, and connecting the elder adult with resources such as counseling or legal aid.
2. Keep Records: It is essential to document all incidents of harassment and stalking, including dates, times, and details of the behavior. This information can be used as evidence in court and can help build a case against the perpetrator.
3. Secure the Elder Adult’s Home: Consider installing security cameras, changing the locks, and adding an alarm system to the elder adult’s home. These measures can help deter the perpetrator from continuing their behavior and give the elder adult a sense of security.
4. Stay Connected: Encourage the elder adult to stay connected with family, friends, and their community. Isolation can make them more vulnerable to harassment and stalking, and having a support system can provide emotional support and help them feel less alone.
5. Educate: Educate the elder adult on the warning signs of harassment and stalking, and encourage them to report any incidents immediately. This can help prevent the behavior from escalating and can ensure that they receive the support they need.
In conclusion, elder harassment and stalking can have a significant impact on an elder adult’s mental and physical health. However, there are steps you can take to protect them, including seeking help, documenting incidents, securing their home, staying connected, and educating them on the warning signs. Remember that these crimes are taken seriously in New York, and there are resources available to assist you in protecting yourself or an elder adult you know.
If you or someone you know is experiencing elder abuse, including harassment or stalking, contact the New York State Office of Children and Family Services at 1-800-342-3009 or the New York State Division of Adult Protective Services at 1-844-697-3505.