In honor of Resident’s Rights Month it is worth emphasizing the scope of mistreatment that affects seniors. Of course, attorneys at our firm work every day on behalf of nursing home residents who are hurt in falls, develop bed sores, and harmed in a myriad of other common ways. The root of all of this harm is vulnerability and the exploitation by those in positions of power or influence.
Of course taking advantage of elderly individuals is not perpetrated only by those working in the long-term care field. The exploitation can affect anyone, making it critical for trusted friends and family members to remain vigilant about the many ways that seniors can be mistreated and abused.
Tour Bus Scam
We often point out that financial scammers see seniors as a prime target, specifically because of their vulnerability. Even those who do not set out specifically to scam seniors may find themselves bilking them when convenient.
For example, the Merced Sun-Star reported last week on felony criminal charges filed against a former tour company owner after she apparently took thousands of dollars from seniors who purchased bus tours that never took place. According to prosecutors in the area, the tour guide is accused of taking more than $14,500 from about 30 local residents, mostly seniors. The story notes that many of the victims were members of a senior citizen clubs and the Red Hat Ladies.
Apparently, over a two month period, the seniors paid the tour guide for various trips, including one to a local horse racing facility and another to a casino. In one case, even though their ticket was supposed to include admission to the facility, their entrance was never paid–they had to pay out of pocket for the ticket. In another case, a bus trip was cancelled because the bus was claimed to have broken down. Yet, rescheduling never took place the seniors never received a refund.
All told, the guide now faces over two dozen misdemeanor counts of “theft from a senior or dependent adult.” This criminal charge specifically carves out financial exploitation of a senior as a unique harm. On top of that, she faces an additional five felony charges for her conduct. An arraignment date has yet to be set, but the potential consequences are steep–up to five years in jail.
It is easy to brush off these types of incidents as less important than exploitation that causes physical harm. But there is often a interconnectivity between financial harm and physical, mental, and emotional damage for a senior. Many seniors have lost thousands of dollars, forcing them to sell a home or receive less than quality care from “bargain” caregivers. The consequences of such exploitation can destroy a senior’s health and well-being.
For this reason, preventing elder abuse must be viewed holistically–preventing mistreatment in all its forms and all settings. There is no excuse for using a senior’s real or perceived vulnerability against them–even in that means charging them more for services or failing to provide a refund.
If you suspect elder abuse; do not stay silent. Contact our attorneys today to see how we can help.
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