There is a type of abuse you don’t hear about much but is one psychologists believe has persisted for generations.
We often hear of spousal abuse and sexual abuse, while bullying has been the most recent hot-button issue. But rarely, if ever, do people think about elder abuse. Until recently, I was one of those people.
There is a family that is close to me and has been telling me about their ordeal involving their patriarch.
Their story began last summer when the man, whom I’ll call Grandpa, suffered a stroke. His prospects didn’t look good for what seemed like the longest time until he finally took a turn for the better.
Already well into his 80s, Grandpa was never going to completely recover from the stroke but perked up as well as one could. He began remembering his loved ones, understanding where he was and what happened to him.
Eventually, he was moved from a metropolitan hospital to an assisted living facility in the small town where he has long been a well-respected community leader. It appeared everything would go as smooth as it could for the once vibrant, self-reliant man now confined to a wheelchair and likely to live out his days in an assisted-living facility.
Unfortunately, his two daughters had differing opinions on his mental and physical state.
The youngest daughter, whom I will call Susan, was content to help keep her father comfortable and happy while helping him get as close to his old self as possible. The eldest daughter, whom I will call Dawn, felt her father’s mind was lost and that he could no longer be trusted to make decisions for himself — including how his money was spent.
This is where the problems began.
Renee Boomgaarden, who works for Badlands Human Services and holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, said financial greed can be the driving force behind many elder abuse cases.
“This happens more than we think,” Boomgaarden said. “Mainly it’s because of greed. Sometimes it’s people who want power and control, but it’s mainly greed.”
Grandpa did very well for himself in his career and in his long-term investments, so there was money to be had.
The family feud reached an apex when Dawn went to a lawyer, got power of attorney and began using Grandpa’s checkbook.
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