LUBBOCK, Texas — Celestino Rodriguez, 79, died after being beaten and robbed.
According to court documents, Heather Casias, whom he knew for months, memorized his debit card PIN number and knew about his monthly benefits check.
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Unfortunately, Danee’ Niña, a supervisor with Adult Protective Services, said elderly exploitation is common.
“They are very easy to target because they believe you have their best interest at heart,” Niña said.
The elderly become more susceptible if they are lonely or if they show signs of mental degradation, she added.
However, there are ways to spot abuse and exploitation, she said.
Niña recommended paying attention to changes in their behavior, financial status, and the individuals they are hanging around.
She said it is important to vet any caregiver provided to the elderly, and to monitor bank accounts for irregular activity.
“All of a sudden, they don’t have money for things they normally could buy such as food,” she said. “They become withdrawn. If somebody you don’t know all of a sudden starts coming around, those are red flags.”
She added an average social security check is $1,200. The minimum an elderly individual can receive is $650.
To protect the elderly during purchases, Niña suggested a trusted individual goes shopping with them, and pays attention to who may be watching their PIN at check-out.
If you are concerned a loved one is a victim of abuse, neglect, or exploitation, call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 800-252-5400.