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Unfair Caregiver Agreement Illustrates Unique Form of Senior Financial Exploitation

Our Illinois elder abuse lawyers frequently warn local residents of the dangers of senior financial exploitation. Unfortunately, there are many who are not hesitant about taking advantage of vulnerable seniors in order to enrich themselves. This financial abuse takes many forms. Money can be stolen outright. Seniors can fall for scams where services are paid for but not provided. In other cases, individuals in a position of authority or trusted confidence can use their position to get the senior to unknowingly do something against their own interests.

Our Chicago elder abuse lawyers appreciate that all of these cases are difficult to uncover, because they often involve victims who don’t even realize that they are being taken advantage of. In a long-term care facility, nursing home abuse involving theft is generally only uncovered with family members or friends follow-up on their suspicions to investigate the situation.

Uncovering mistreatment in other contexts is even harder.

For example, The Star recently shared the story of one senior who is trying to get control of her house and life savings back from her former caregiver.

According to a new suit filed in the case, the senior signed a “home care agreement” whereby the senior spent a considerable amount of her life savings to buy a nearly $500,000 house for a woman in exchange for the woman providing caregiving services. The 83-year old woman was very close to the defendant. The caregiver used to have power of attorney for the senior and was also the former beneficiary under the senior’s will.

The senior originally thought that she would be the owner of the house. She was shocked to learn that instead she only had a life interest in the house, with the caregiver as the primary owner. In other words, once the senior passed on, the caregiver would return full ownership of the property.

The senior first met the caregiver during a short rehabilitation stay at a nearby nursing home. After her release the caregiver began helping the senior full-time. It was then that she slowly began isolating the woman and trying to take advantage of her financially, according to the court documents. Authorities only learned about the problem when the senior’s neighbor called the police after learning that the senior was a virtually prisoner in her own home.

The lawsuit claims that the caregiver used her power and position with the woman to exert unfair and harmful influence for her own gain. Besides getting the senior to purchase the house, the suit also claims that nearly $30,000 in loans were given to the caregiver and furniture and other possessions were stolen.

Of course our legal system protects all residents. But it is particularly necessary to help those who are otherwise vulnerable of being taken advantage of by those in a position of power or authority. That often includes seniors who have few alternative ways of being vindicated and supported following mistreatment.

Our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers encourage all local residents to keep an eye out for the seniors in their life. That includes being on the look-out for signs of abuse at long-term care facilities as well as among seniors who live at home. If problems are identified it is important to first ensure that the senior is taken from any unsafe situation. After that, all proper legal options should be considered to help hold the wrongdoer accountable and help the senior recover some of the losses that they might have experienced.

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