KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is being observed on Wednesday, June 15.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation shared what they called, “common sense advice that has the potential to protect seniors – and all of us – from falling victim to a costly scam.”

The Knoxville-Knox County CAC Office on Aging also is spreading awareness about elder abuse.

The Elder Abuse Program Manager with the Office on Aging, Sasha Hammett, shared the types of abuse that can occur.

“Elder abuse can include physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual violence, neglect, financial exploitation and fraud,” Hammett began. “I don’t think people often realize that that includes all of that.”

Hammett also shared that financial exploitation and fraud via internet romance scams are two types of abuse growing at a fast pace in East Tennessee.

“It’s complex because when you have financial exploitation, first of all, it’s usually committed by someone that is trusted by the victim,” she said. “With the financial exploitation there’s also multiple forms of abuse that are usually occurring, so you have that piece of it, but you often times find the neglect, the emotional abuse and physical abuse that sometimes goes along with it.”

Hammett says some warning signs financial abuse may be occurring is someone suddenly not being able to pay their bills.

Some other warning signs of elder abuse can be a changed behavior in an older adult and suddenly withdrawing socially.

She also spoke about why they’ve tracked an increase in elder abuse since the start of the pandemic.

“Isolation and loneliness are really imminent risk factors for someone to be abused,” Hammett began. “They’re isolated, they’re lonely, they just want someone to talk to and then here comes someone and they’re like, ‘Oh, I can trust this person,’ and then it basically kind of starts from there.”

Hammett said one of the best things people can do is be proactive by checking on older adults in your life and paying attention to what’s going on.

Everyone in Tennessee is a mandated reporter. If someone knows about abuse they need to call Adult Protective Services at 1-888-APS-TENN.