Elder Financial Abuse Concerns Rise
We live in a very youth-focused society. We are enamored by young talent. We are intrigued by headlines of the latest 10-year-old student entering college. New technology targets Millennials and their children. As a result, however, we are forgetting about our growing aging population — Baby Boomers, not to mention their parents, who are living longer will require some form of assistance, whether it’s via a nursing home or in-home health care aide.
A growing senior population also means increased instances of elder abuse, whether it is financial, physical or emotional. Neglect takes up the lion’s share of abuse cases, comprising 59 percent of reported elder abuse cases. Financial exploitation accounts for 13 percent of abuse cases, but it is a costly and growing field.
Estimated yearly costs of financial elder abuse total $2.9 billion. The figure could increase as the senior population is growing in size. A recent MetLife study on elder financial abuse found that women are twice as likely as men to be victims. These women are usually between the ages of 80 and 89 and are living alone. Almost 60 percent of victimizers are men ages 30 to 59. Most fraud instances — 51 percent — are committed by strangers, families, friends, and neighbors which makes up 34 percent of cases. Often, it is the seemingly well-intentioned relative who is covertly siphoning money out of an ailing senior’s bank accounts.
Elder abuse: It’s being considered the fastest-growing crime in the U.S. The financial abuse of seniors — even those unrelated to you — should be of concern to everybody. Once relatives deplete a senior’s savings, they often turn to Medicaid, funded by taxpayer dollars.
Thankfully, elder financial abuse is getting a greater spotlight. The Huffington Post recently published an article that illustrates how people and organizations are focusing on the issue:
- National Senior Citizen’s Day (August 21) is helping to raise awareness of concerns and issues as they pertain to the aging population.
- The American Bankers Association recently partnered with the AARP, underscoring the pressing issue of financial elder abuse. The two organizations will work together for two years under the Clinton Global Initiative to protect seniors from financial exploitation and senior fraud. Both organizations will do research on senior fraud and how to create better banking that caters to seniors. The ABA will create resources to help bankers talk about fraud prevention with customers. They also aim to make branches more senior-friendly.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released a guide for staff members of nursing homes and assisted living facilities addressing financial abuse and business scams. It outlines how to recognize, to record and to report financial exploitation of a senior by family members or any other person in charge of the vulnerable adult’s finances.
Right now, states decide on appropriate protection measures and prosecution regarding elder financial exploitation. A national law against the crime does not exist yet. Right now, only Florida and California have state laws that require that elder abuse, including financial elder abuse, be reported. If your state doesn’t do enough to protect your loved one, call our elder abuse lawyers at Garcia & Artigliere at (800) 328-2630.