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Elder Guardianship Abuse

Many seniors prefer to “age in place’ without the need to move into a nursing home or other facility. Very real concerns about the quality of care provided at these facilities is one common reason for the aversion to skilled nursing facilities. Fortunately, at-home caregivers and other support systems can be created to allow seniors to live in their own homes (or with a family member).

But it is important not to forget that elder abuse and neglect does not only occur in the nursing home. It arises in many different settings.

For example, if a senior is suffering from severe physical or mental challenges an official “guardian” may be appointed by the court to provide for the senior’s needs. As a new story from My Elder Advocate explains, abuse and mistreatment by these guardians remains a serious problem.

Neglected By Those You Rely On
As the story notes, perhaps the most common scenario is when a senior shows cognitive decline, usually dementia and Alzheimer’s, and another individual is needed to provide close care to ensure the senior does not harm themselves or their interests. This does not mean that the community member must be in a nursing home. But it does indicate that another should provide close oversight and have the ability to help the senior make decisions that are not clearly against their interests–like lose money in scams.

Unfortunately, with the transfer of significant power to another individual comes the possibility for abuse of that power. It occurs frequently.

For example, the story shares the tale of one 87-year old man with Alzheimer’s. As is common, the senior was befriended by a younger man–a cab driver who frequently drove the senior around. For reasons that are hard to fathom, the cab driver became the senior’s legal guardian, regardless of the fact that the driver was previously a convicted bank robber. You can probably guess how this situation ends. The “guardian’ embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the senior to pay for his own entertainment–including a Humvee and exotic dancers. Fortunately, the driver was caught and sent to prison but not before wasting away $640,000 of the senior’s money that will never be returned.

This represents just one of many cases of abuse by those charged with providing aid to a senior in need. Because of the complete control that guardians have over a senior, the abuse can be extensive, including wiping them out financially, isolating them from loved ones, and paying little heed to their physical, mental, and emotional health.

Considering that October is Residents’ Rights Month, it is worth reiterated that no senior–regardless of their situation–should be treated with such abandon. It is incumbent upon those of us in a position to do something to actually come through. Please do not allow your suspicions to go uninvestigated. If you suspect mistreatment, stand up and put a stop to it.

To learn more about these issues, consider browsing the helpful resource StopGuardianAbuse.org. Also, if you are interested in learning about legal rights for accountability following mistreatment, feel free to give our elder neglect attorneys a call today.

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