Elder financial exploitation is often considered the most prevalent form of senior abuse. Estimates on the scope of the problem are notoriously difficult, because many seniors lie about being exploited, But, many peg the number at upwards of one in every ten seniors being taken advantage for their money in some capacity.
One of the reasons why it is difficult to curb this problem is that those abusing in this way infiltrate the lives of senior over a period of months or even years. Therefore, rooting out the mistreatment requires dealing with individuals that the seniors has entrenched relationships.
Illinois Senior Financial Exploitation
A real-world story in a recent Daily Herald highlights exactly how this situation often arises in our area. A local resident wrote in asking for help. His mother died eight years ago. Not long afterwards, the man’s now-81 year old father became “friends” with a much younger woman. The other woman has a daughter and it was not long before the senior man began treating the mother and daughter to gifts--including buying them a car and paying their bills.
Eventually the mother and daughter moved into the senior’s house where they have been living rent-free ever since. All told, the son believes that the two have used more than $100,000 of their father’s money. In fact, they are still living in the home. The son claims that his father knows the women are using him, but he is struggling to kick them out of his house. No matter what, it is hard to break bonds that have been built up over the years--even the most extremely unhealthy ones.
As often happens in these situations, the exploitation is beginning to affect the senior’s ability to live his retirement life in peace. The pair of women convinced the senior to take on over $25,000 in credit card debt on the daughter’s behalf--the man had to withdraw money from his retirement account to pay that off.
Act. Get Help.
The most important thing to remember if you or someone you know is facing this situation is not to stay silent. If left unchallenged, those abusing a senior are unlikely to stop until they take everything they can. The article helpfully points to a key resources in these disputes: The Illinois Department on Aging. The state agency has an intervention program that is designed to step in in just these situation and determine if abuse is occurring. The intervention service can be reach as 1-800-252-8966 on weekdays and 1-800-279-0400 on weekends.
Do not forget that this exploitation can take place anywhere--even in situations that you might assume are secure. For example, our team of attorneys know that outright theft and exploitation even takes place inside some long-term care facilities. If these homes are not careful in who they hire, staff members are often in a position to take valuable possessions or even access resident financial accounts. When that happens, not only may criminal charges be brought against the wrongdoer, but, in some cases, the home itself may be held accountable for its lapses which allowed the mistreatment to occur.
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