Neglected elderly can be targets for predators during holidays

December may not be the most wonderful time of the year for some.

Holiday messages saying we need to be with loved ones can be a sad reminder.

“We’re especially concerned in the holidays. You’re dealing with factors involving elder abuse like loneliness but holiday depression as well,” said Scott Spallina.

Spallina supervises the Elder Abuse Justice Unit in the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney in Honolulu.

“Unfortunately, they may not have family, so who do they turn to? Strangers or their next-door neighbor who shows them a little bit of attention. They invite that person into their life,” he said.

Spallina has seen many cases of elder abuse start this way.

“We’re all social animals. We need that interaction from other people and if our family’s not giving us that interaction, then that opens us up to abuse,” he said.

The victims often give money or expensive items. “That gift might be a check for $1,000 or jewelry they were going to give to their grandchildren,” Spallina said.

So now, more than at other times of the year, visit your elderly loved one.

“Visit your grandmother at the home as much as possible. That way she won’t form an unhealthy relationship with one of the caregivers,” Spallina said.

Give them the best gift of all: your time.

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