Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Troubling Calls: Elder Abuse

Lynn A. Dean
Estate Planning Attorney
Every time I am asked to speak on the subject of aging, I always bring up the issue of elder abuse. The most troubling calls I receive are the ones that begin, “Dad has Alzheimer’s and my sister has moved in with him, and is spending all of his money.” The majority of elder abuse cases come from family members. In these challenging economic times, when people are losing jobs and houses, financial elder abuse will very likely be increasing. Our public agencies such as APS (adult protective services) are overwhelmed, understaffed, and will see their budgets cut in this era of drastic revenue shortfalls. I frequently hear from families that someone has contacted APS, but they wouldn’t do anything about the problem. I tell them that APS can only do certain things, and since they are only one agency, getting all of the calls for these problems, they can’t fix every situation. We all need to be vigilant in order to protect our families, our friends, and our neighbors. Ironically, it seems sometimes that a senior will trust a stranger before they will trust someone in their own family.  With dementia often comes a certain level of paranoia, but that usually takes the form of accusing the family members (or caregivers) of stealing something, when it has just been misplaced. 

The best protection against elder abuse is vigilance. Be sure you know what is going on
in your parents’ home, and don’t assume that everyone is a “good guy.” For a reference on warning signs, risk factors, prevention and reporting Abuse, click here.

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