Monday, February 23, 2015

Would You Be Willing To Report A Family Member For Financial Elder Abuse?

It would take some nerve to report an abusive family member to law enforcement. We also know from the National Center on Elder Abuse that most abusers are family members. And they tell us that only 44 out of 1000 instances of abuse are reported to authorities. Why aren’t more cases reported to the very authorities capable of stopping the abusers?

It seems to me that most family members are simply unwilling to “rat out” another family member even when they know that abuse is going on. When it comes to the elders themselves, there is shame and embarrassment with being taken advantage of by someone close, and someone they really trusted, a grown child perhaps. They hesitate. They are fearful. They want to talk about it but not do anything about it. And the reluctance to report the abuse to Adult Protective Services is not limited to the elders who can’t bear to call the authorities about a son, daughter or other relative.

I received a call from a distressed sister,  convinced that her older brother was stealing from their parents. He had total control over their parents, one of whom had dementia.  He had been appointed by his parents as the agent on both the Durable Power of Attorney and the Advance Healthcare Directive.  This gave him the legal authority to make both financial decisions without being accountable to anyone else and all healthcare decisions as well.  I listened patiently to all the reasons she thought her brother was taking her parents’ money and using it for himself.  I asked her if she had called Adult Protective Services.” No”, she said.  When I asked why not she said “I don’t want to get my brother in trouble”.  Where is the logic in that?

In another case, the elder herself had called. “I gave my grandson a big loan and he hasn’t paid it back” she said.  “And now I need the money to live on”.  She described how her favorite grandson had taken title to her mobile home and gotten a loan, even after she had “loaned” him most of her savings.  I explained that her chances of getting paid back were probably not very good, but the least she could do was to report what had happened to authorities. I advised her that taking a “loan” from an 80 year old and not paying it back would likely be considered elder abuse and it should be reported to APS.  ”Would my grandson go to jail?” she asked.  I told her I didn’t know but it can happen when someone has committed this crime of elder abuse.  She said, “I don’t want my grandson to go to jail”.  And I am sure she did not follow up or do anything more about the problem, even though she was at risk for homelessness.

Elders like the 80 year old woman are typical of why elder abuse does not get reported and therefore prosecuted more often, even when a family member is well aware of it and aware that it is wrong.  They would rather suffer impoverishment than be the one to report abuse. In fact, these same victims may refuse to testify against a relative who has abused them, even when these cases are prosecuted.  Charges may not stick when the victim is unwilling to testify, unless there are independent records to prove the case in court.

It is as much a problem of our emotions and fears as it is of the wrongdoing itself. We somehow justify the actions, we look the other way or we fear what the justice system will do to our abusive relative.  We must stop giving thieves a pass.

I ask, where is the anger at a crime against a person who is easily taken advantage of by the abuser?  Where is the advocacy for the vulnerable elder?  Why are we remaining silent so often  in this growing, $2.9 billion dollar a year problem? At I am only one voice. I do what I can to educate, to encourage reporting, and occasionally to report elder abuse myself.  We need more allies.

I would be willing to guess that there is someone reading this who has a financial abuser in the family or knows of a family where this has taken place.  I urge you to speak up.  To my knowledge, you can remain anonymous in your reporting, just as you can with any crime. Most elder abuse hotlines are staffed 24/7.  Whether or not the criminal justice system can prove the crime is not your problem.  It is your problem to know about the abuse and to do nothing.  One day it could be you who is victimized.  (Continue Reading)

Full Article & Source:
Would You Be Willing To Report A Family Member For Financial Elder Abuse?


Stephanie said...

The figures are not confirmed and yet NCEA and APS present them as absolute fact.

izzy said...

I believe this article is ultimately about promoting their business. Click on the link in the article and decide for yourself.

sue rivera said...

I reported it and nothing was done. I even gave tons of proof.

Hedy said...

I not only would be willing to report a family member for elder abuse, I did and the authorities did not care. It was my sister who "legally" stole from my mother, was found out by me and my mother. My mother was initially angry and actually said, " if I had her in front of me, I would skin her alive". This only lasted a short time, and then the embarrassment set in, and she forgave her.
I'm sure my situation is not unusual. We just don't have the law on our side once the elderly give an adult child the ability to legally steal. When one sibling gets a POA, this becomes a recipe for disaster. It happened to me and it will keep happening as long as the law closes her eyes.

momma's girl said...

I am the rat in our family. My brother and sister came to mom's house after our father became ill, decided to take mom's medications away from her, and after I called APS and filed for a guardianship, mom was taken to another state over a thousand miles away. Her bank accounts were closed, her home put up for sale, her belongings sent to an auctioneer all because they want her money. So far, we stopped the sale of the home, a professional guardian was appointed as they did not want me to be her guardian, her bank accounts, possessions, and anything of value that my siblings did not take, the guardian has control over. There was no other choice but a "professional" guardian. Mom was on the Ativan, Depakote, Seroquel restraint cocktail when we found her in a nursing home so far away, so of course the examining committee found her incompetent. It has been a year long battle in the courts and lots of money spent, but what price can I put on my mom? We now fight the guardian to allow her to come home even though mom retained the right to choose where she lives. The guardian only wants mom to live in a facility rather than in her home. Mom can live at home, she was living at home taking care of everything when they came here and destroyed her way of living through their greed. One battle after another battle.

When mom was taken out of state, we know and she knows in a drugged condition, things were made more difficult. Mom doesn't want her children to get into trouble, she just wants to come home. I get that, and I don't mind being a rat, if something is wrong, it is wrong. One big wrong in this country is the lack of laws and people to enforce these crimes against the elderly. Even in our youth oriented society no one wants to die young, so it is hypocritical that more isn't done to protect those who protected us.If anyone questions the validity of this craziness, I do have all the documentation that promises to truly amaze and repulse anyone who cares about their mom.

helensniece said...

yes yes yes and I have!

Anonymous said...

Professional fiduciaries/conservators also frequently steal, and so do attorneys and judges.