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Seniors Remain Popular Scam Targets

Many senior care advocates suggest that the best way to combat nursing home neglect and abuse is simply to ensure that fewer seniors actually live in these institutional-like settings. After all, virtually all seniors would prefer to age in place anyway. Improving access to at-home care options is therefore an incredibly attractive option because it both eliminates the risk of nursing home mistreatment and actually enhances the overall well-being of the individual. Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys support this concept, and hope that more local residents have plans in place so that medical and financial resources will be available to allow at-home care.

However, it is important not to assume that seniors are automatically safe from mistreatment if they live at home. For one thing, caregivers who provide support to seniors in their own home must be held to the same level of accountable at nursing home aides. Tasks need to be completely in proper ways, and seniors need to be able to rely on the consistent support of those charged with helping them get along at home. In addition, there are actually some risks that might be even more prevalent when seniors are at home. This is perhaps most clear in the case of senior financial exploitation.

Seniors who live at home are more likely to face demands from those seeking to take advantage of them for financial gain. A recent post at the New Old Age Blog of the New York Times discussed this issue and the concerns of many that the actual scope of the problem is little understood.

The story explains how even professional fraud investigators remain unsure about the total number of seniors who fall victim to financial scams each year. That is because there is no reliable method of getting accurate figures. In general, the best estimates right now rely heavily on phone surveys, asking seniors if they’ve even lost money in one of these ways. This method is better than relying on official records from law enforcement, because it is well known that the vast majority of this abuse is never reported.

However, phone surveys themselves are not all that reliable. In fact, a National Victim Profiling study commissioned by the AARP explicitly sought to test the accuracy of these surveys. To do so, over 750 seniors were called who had actually reported being scammed to law enforcement officials. If the surveys were accurate then 100% of those called would have answered yes to questions of being scammed-after all, they had actually reported such abuse to the police. Yet, surprisingly, only 40% of seniors actually admitted to falling victim to a scam. That represents a large 60% error rate.

In other words, the study makes clear that most assessments about the total number of seniors falling victim to these scams probably drastically underestimate the scope of the actual problem.

Each Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers appreciate that this underreporting of problems is echoed in mistreatment within nursing homes. For a variety of reasons, including confusion, shame, and embarrassment, seniors often do not reported being mistreated. That makes it crucial for outside observers to keep a close eye on these individuals to ensure accountability is had when they are taken advantage of.

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