As elder law and estate planning attorneys, we are focused on matters that are of particular interest to senior citizens. There are a number of different issues that are pressing within the elder law community at the present time. Without question, elder abuse is near the top of the list.
Since elder abuse is such a reprehensible act, it is not talked about enough, but you should certainly be aware of the potential for abuse that exists if you have parents who are reaching an advanced age. It is also important to do everything that you can to protect yourself when you are making preparations for your twilight years.
Elder abuse can take various different forms. Of course there is physical abuse, and this can take place when a senior citizen is still living at home with a certain amount of assistance, and it can take place in nursing homes. There are also instances of sexual abuse that are perpetrated against senior citizens.
Emotional abuse can enter the picture as well. There are those who intimidate, berate, and/or threaten senior citizens that are in their care.
Neglect is also part of the problem. There are senior citizens who are relying on caregivers, and in some cases the people involved neglect their responsibilities. This can sometimes escalate to absolute abandonment.
Elder Financial Abuse
The forms of elder abuse that we have looked at so far are personal, but elder financial abuse is an enormous problem as well. This form of abuse goes largely unreported, and there are different reasons for this lack of reporting.
In some cases, the person who is being abused is simply not aware of it. Plus, as sad as it is, many instances are not reported because the victims are protecting the abusers.
Family members, caregivers, and friends sometimes take unfair advantage of their access, and they help themselves to things that do not belong to them. Even though the victims may notice, they keep quiet, because they need the care and they don’t want to get these people in trouble.
The extent of the lack of reporting is actually quite mind-boggling. The New York State Elder Abuse Prevalence Study found that just one out of every 44 cases is reported to the authorities.
MetLife did a study back in 2011, and they estimated annual losses at just under $3 billion. This is a lot of money, but True Link Financial has conducted another study more recently. They estimate losses at a staggering $36.5 billion per year.
While there are plenty of crimes of opportunity that are committed by people who are close to the victims, there are also crimes of predation. Identity theft is a big problem for all of us, and seniors can be targeted. There are also door-to-door scams, telemarketing schemes, and various cons that can impact senior citizens.
Seniors are often targeted because they can sometimes be gullible, and early-onset dementia can impact their decision-making capabilities. Plus, lonely senior citizens may be more inclined to engage a telemarketing or door-to-door scam artist, because they simply crave the attention of another human being.
The problem of elder financial abuse strikes a very significant percentage of senior citizens. True Link Financial tells us that almost 37 percent of all senior citizens fall victim to some form of financial abuse during any five-year interim. About seven percent of the people who were contacted during the study lost at least $10,000, and the average amount that was lost among these people was $52,300.
If you discuss these elder abuse matters with a licensed elder law attorney when you are planning ahead for the eventualities of aging, you can find out how you can protect yourself. This is also true if you are helping an aging parent address latter life contingencies.
Attend a Free Seminar
Our firm can help if you would like to learn more about important estate planning and elder law topics. Education is very important to us, and as you can see, we provide a lot of good written information on our website.
In addition to the electronic dissemination of information, we also get out into the community offering seminars to people in the greater Naples area. The seminars are held on an ongoing basis in various different locations, and we also offer multiple starting times to accommodate different schedules.
These sessions are free to attend, but we do ask that you register in advance so that we can reserve your seat. We should also point out the fact that you qualify for a free consultation if you attend one of the seminars. Visit our seminar schedule page to get all the details.