Documentary Targets Senior Financial Abuse

The Examiner shared a story this week on a new documentary planning to showcase the prevalence of elder financial exploitation. At the center will be perhaps the most well-known victim of one of these crimes–Mickey Rooney.

Rooney,currently 91, has been in the spotlight virtually all of his life. With eight marriages, nine children, and nineteen grandchildren, it seems strange that such a personality could be affected by an issue like senior financial exploitation. Our Chicago senior abuse lawyers know that many immediately assume all of these victims are seniors living alone and isolated from others. But, as Rooney’s case shows, it can happen to anyone. As blog readers know, Rooney testified before Congress in March of 2011. During the testimony he noted how he was financially abused by a family member–though he didn’t name the individual. The hearing was an attempt for Congress to get a grasp of these issues and perhaps spur legislation to fight it.

The Documentary
The new documentary will focus on Rooney’s story as a warning to all seniors. The production is titled, “Last Will and Embezzlement” with the tagline. “If it can happen to Mickey Rooney, it can happen to anybody.”

Besides interviews with Rooney, the movie also shares various, heart-wrenching stories of real-life seniors swindled in their elder years. Experts present crucial information as well, with the goal of helping viewers prevent abuse of themselves of loved ones. For example, the common profiles of victims, ways that the abuse occurs, and reasons for the exploitation are all examined.

The filmmaker herself was spurred to make the movie after her own mother passed away and her father descended into Alzheimer’s. All of this occured while her parents were in a nursing home. One time, while at the facility a complete stranger visited the home, pretended to be the woman’s brother and tried to get access to the senior. The man obtained information from the father, including details about his checking accounts.

When the family discovered this, they went to the authorities. However, the police told the her that the situation did not warrant an investigation. While some law enforcement agencies properly investigate these claims, our Chicago nursing home lawyers know that all too often it falls on family members to demand proper accountability.

The filmmaker notes that one purpose is to “get people thinking about ways to protect themselves so they don’t have to rely on law enforcement after the fact.”

Another large mission of the documentary is to shine a spotlight on an issue that is all too often hidden. According to the National Center for Elder Abuse, roughly two-third of all elder abuse (of which financial abuse is just a part) goes unreported. The abusers can be anyone, from care workers to family members. Seniors with cognitive disease like dementia and Alzheimer’s are most at risk.

Some efforts are being made a federal level to tackle the issue. One U.S. Senator is pushing for legislation that emphasizes more reporting of abuse. In addition, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) includes some components to combat crimes committed against older adults.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

White House Coordinates Effort to Fight Elder Abuse

Secretary Sebelius on Fighting Elder Abuse

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