South Carolina has the third-worst protection against elder abuse among states, according to a new study.

“The most common form of elder abuse I’ve witnessed is financial exploitation,” said Martina Davis, senior citizens advocate for City of North Charleston Mayor’s Office on Aging. “Seniors fall victim to phone scams, door sales or extortion by someone they trust — and sadly in some cases, self-neglect. Without knowing there are resources to help them, oftentimes, seniors go without adequate nutrition or health care.”

The study by WalletHub found South Carolina had insufficient protections for individuals aged 65 and older based on 16 metrics, including gross neglect and exploitation complaints, number of eldercare organizations, quality of nursing homes, financial elderly abuse laws and more.

The Palmetto State tied with California and Nevada as the states with the highest rate of elder abuse, gross neglect and complaints regarding elderly exploitation. 

South Carolina also ranked among the worst states for total expenditures on elder abuse prevention (45th), the number of eldercare organizations and services (40th) and the quality of nursing homes (32th).

“Some resources for elder abuse services in Charleston County are Charleston County Department of Social Services, the City of Charleston Office on Aging and the City Of North Charleston’s Office on Aging to name a small few,”  Davis said. “These offices can assist our seniors and or refer them to other agencies that can further assist them.”

Davis recommended staying involved in the lives of elderly loved ones to pick up on signs of potential elder abuse.

“Family members and neighbors should be vigilant in noticing who is visiting, changes in behavior and appearance of self and home that may be a detriment to that individual,” she said. “Family members, friends and neighbors can reach out to the local organizations for assistance.”

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