One of the most troubling issues that we are forced to face as elder law attorneys is the matter of financial exploitation of senior citizens.
This problem started to come to light back in 2011 when the MetLife Mature Market Institute published an influential study. They were joined by Virginia Tech University and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, and they reached some eye-opening conclusions.
At that time, they estimated that instances of financial fraud and exploitation cost senior citizens $2.9 billion a year. Just over half of the perpetrators were strangers, and 34 percent of the abusers were family members, friends, neighbors, caregivers, and fiduciaries.
Since then, there have been a number of different studies conducted, and estimated losses have been considerably higher. The experts that look into the subject have a hard time making truly accurate projections because of one very significant underlying factor.
One of the studies that was conducted by the state of New York found that just one out of every 44 cases of elder abuse is actually reported to the authorities. When you digest this fact, you can see why it is almost impossible to fully understand the extent of the losses.
Why would so many cases go unreported? One reason is because many elders simply do not know that they have been taken advantage of or defrauded.
Another one is the protection factor. Elders that are being ripped off do not want to report family members and get them in trouble. Plus, in a lot of cases, people that have the access that it takes to abuse the elders are providing care for them. The seniors do not want to lose their assistance.
Cognitive Impairment Is a Contributing Factor
A lot of people are not aware of the widespread nature of cognitive impairment among the elderly.
Ten percent of all seniors are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. This is a significant number in and of itself, and the likelihood increases as the years pass. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 30 percent of individuals that are 85 years of age and older have contracted the disease.
This is not the only cause of cognitive impairment, but it is a major contributing factor. Scam artists and fraudsters take full advantage when they see this type of opening.
The Need for Human Interaction
Many seniors experience loneliness late in their lives, and it’s not hard to put yourself in their position. Your spouse has passed away, and you have lost close friends and relatives. Since you no longer go to work, you do not have regular interactions with your coworkers.
Yes, you have family members, but you do not want to be a constant burden, and you don’t want them to worry. You don’t complain to protect their feelings, and you know they lead busy lives.
As strong as you may be, loneliness and a lack of human interaction are going to take a toll. Under the circumstances, you may give your attention to telemarketers or door to door salespeople that you used to brush off.
Most of these folks are just trying to make an honest living, but there are scam artists that use these facades to bilk people out of their funds.
Elder Financial Abuse Prevention
There are legal steps that you can take to minimize your exposure to elder financial abuse. We can explain them if you decide to connect with us to put a plan for aging in place.
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