The Many Forms of Elder Financial Abuse

The Quad City Times recently highlighted the widespread problem of elder financial abuse and the various forms in which it occurs.

Elderly residents remain vulnerable to being taken advantage of in many circumstances. For example, Brian Lovett was startled to discover that his 94-year old mother had written various checks to public safety organization, a rodeo, and police organization hundreds of miles from her Iowa home. Mr. Lovett’s mother died this year, suffering from dementia for several years before her passing. He believes that these organizations kept soliciting his mother because she mentally wasn’t aware of where her donations were going, even though she had no connection to their services.

While Ms. Lovett’s example may exist on the borderline of financial exploitation, thousands of other seniors each year are purposefully targeted and swindled out of the savings that they spent their lives earning. Estimates suggest that $2.6 billion each year is taken from vulnerable seniors due to elder financial abuse.

In fact, many elder service professionals report that cases of financial abuse are much more frequent than direct neglect and abuse. One bank officer explained one common form of the problem, noting, “In my experience, we have to be careful of what we call ‘professional beneficiaries.’ These are people who gain a senior’s trust and then get control of their finances.”

Illinois recently passed a new law intending to help train bank employees to recognize the red flags that suggest elder financial abuse. However, even with that training, elder abuse is still likely to occur, because only a fraction of cases is ever reported. Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti are well aware of the financial abuse of many elderly residents. We have seen the abuse occur at the hand of family members, friends, and at nursing homes. We encourage everyone to remain vigilant and active in rooting out the problem. Contact nursing home lawyers if you know of any elder abuse or neglect.

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