Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Elder abuse is a growing problem

 To the editor,

 World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 turns public attention to elder abuse. Famous victims include multimillionaires “Top 40” DJ Casey Kasem, Peter Falk of “Columbo,” and New York socialite Brooke Astor, whose grandson, Philip Marshall, successfully stopped her financial exploitation and psychological abuse.

However, with 10,000 elders retiring daily and 50 million elders projected to be 65 and older by 2020, the number of vulnerable elders with lesser incomes and assets is soaring.

Too often, elders lose their civil rights, their homes, and lifelong savings through undue influence and coercion, intimidation, isolation and misrepresentation. There may be questionable dementia or incapacity diagnoses and misuse of health care proxies, powers of attorney, guardianships and conservatorships.

Elder abuse circumstances often are improperly dismissed as purely “family” matters. In reality, families may face systemic abuse in which elders, their families and their assets, properties and homes are targeted by multiple outside parties, sometimes for years, to benefit the abusers.

These abusers may include financial, legal or medical professionals and those in the courts, government agencies, law enforcement, protective services, the clergy, long-term care and real estate businesses. Fighting these networks of abusers through the legal system can be protracted and expensive. Once the elder’s assets are depleted, the elder’s “usefulness” has passed and the elder dies.

 Often isolated, the elder may have been needlessly medicated with antipsychotics, opioids or, sometimes, lethal doses of morphine. Abusers know the likelihood of being held accountable for their collective actions is slim.

Elder justice is slow. An October 2014 Massachusetts Legislative Special Commission report on elder protective services cites a severe lack of training in financial exploitation and the screening out of abuse complaints without investigation.

In March 2015, the Maine Attorney General’s “Task Force Report on Financial Exploitation of Elders” went further; besides adult protective services, the Maine report includes judges and their court system, law enforcement, and prosecutors among those who lack training. Little has changed in Maine, the state with the highest per capita elderly in the country, and in Massachusetts.

Financial exploitation of elders and their families and the premature turnover of elder assets has become a lucrative industry nationally with unscrupulous players cashing in on the lack of oversight, protections and consequences.

In 2015, Georgia passed RICO legislation making conspiracy and racketeering to exploit an elder a felony. I have been working on similar legislation with Massachusetts lawmakers. Please contact me at PO Box 2496, Woburn, MA 01888 with examples of elder financial exploitation and abuse. Thank you to those who already submitted their examples.

Kendra Cooper Esq.
Elder advocate

Full Article & Source:
Elder abuse is a growing problem

1 comment:

Crissie said...

This article concerns me because it seems to favor the idea of applying for guardianship to protect a person and we all know what happens when we do that. I don't think that was the intent, but it's what I see.