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Scams Against the Elderly on the Rise

The Washington Post recently discussed a growing problem: the rise of elder financial abuse. Each year more and more seniors Americans are swindled, tricked, and robbed out of the funds they have often spent their lifetimes saving.

A study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute last year discovered that seniors lose at least $2.6 billion a year to scams and that is a conservative estimate. The report also indicated that many seniors are reluctant to let anyone know about these scams out of embarrassment, fear of being sent to a nursing home, and concern about having to testify in court.

Gail Nardi of the Virginia Department of Social Services mentioned that cases of senior financial abuse are skyrocketing. She explains that just last month a caregiver at the Department of Social Services took more than $24,000 from an 89- year old vulnerable elderly resident who had sought care through the state agency.

Financial abuse of the elderly takes many forms. It often involves care workers at nursing homes and others hired specifically to assist the vulnerable seniors. At other times, elderly victims are exploited by their own family members. One high-profile example is the recent case of New York socialite Brooke Astor, whose son was accused of taking $1 million while his mother was suffering from Alzheimers.

Other senior financial scams involve a claimed “handyman” convincing a senior that home repair needs to be done and taking payment for the work without ever actually fixing anything. The unnecessary work typically includes fixing roofs, paving driveways, and trimming trees.

Many states have called on physicians and bank tellers to play a more active role in stopping the abuse. By encouraging those individuals (who most seniors interact with frequently) to report suspicious behavior, many scams may be caught before it is too late.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers encourage everyone to pay close attention to signs of senior financial exploitation among any elderly family and friends. Often the victims of these scams have money saved up to pay for their medical care in their final years, only to have it ripped from them by greedy thieves. It can happen in any circumstance and at any time. The only way to stop the growing problem is increasing awareness and more reporting of potential problems.