June 3rd, 2010. By Kristine B
There are few things we at LawyersandSettlements.com cover that are as heartbreaking as financial elder abuse. The stories about senior citizens who have worked their entire lives to care for family members while ensuring that they, themselves, would be financially stable in their later years—only to have loved ones steal from them—arouse a combination of fury and sadness. The sad truth is that very few incidents of elder abuse are ever reported by the senior, leaving it up to other family members or close friends to figure out what’s going on.
The sad truth also is that in difficult economic times when many are facing financial hardship, sometimes the “easiest” route to some cash flow can involve the proverbial apple going back to the tree—uninvited. That’s why now, more than ever, it’s important to be aware of the signs of elder abuse and protect those who may be victimized.
This week, Pleading Ignorance examines financial elder abuse, signs it’s occurring and what you can do.
Financial elder abuse occurs when someone (a loved one, a close friend or even a stranger) preys on a senior citizen and cheats the senior out of money or property. It is a heinous crime and one that goes vastly under reported. The senior may be embarrassed at having been swindled,
may be afraid of retaliation if the abuser is a family member or caregiver, may be conflicted about reporting a family member to the authorities or may be unable to comprehend that he was, indeed, the victim of a crime.
Seniors have lost their life savings, their homes, their valued jewelry or other property to abusers. At the same time, the abuser may take advantage of the senior’s condition by providing less care than is necessary or putting the senior in a care home that doesn't meet the senior’s needs.
I’m fairly certain there’s a special place in hell for those who would do this to their elder family members. But before they get their due from a higher power, there are some signs to be aware of right here, right now, in order to help someone who may be the victim of elder abuse.
In many cases it’s up to family and friends to discover the wrongdoing and file a complaint. In the situation of Brooke Astor, a New York socialite and philanthropist, the victim’s grandson filed a complaint against his father—Astor’s son—alleging that Astor wasn’t being properly cared for even though she could afford a high quality of care. In the end, charges were laid against Astor’s son, he was found guilty and sentenced to time in jail.
The financial abuse may not have ever been discovered if Astor’s grandson hadn't filed a complaint.