Marcia Southwick ©9/19/18
“The false impression out there blaming families and relatives for 90% of elder abuse means that guardians can protect their own paychecks by maligning families in court, which they often do. It also means that the public is distracted away from looking at the larger entities abusing the elderly right under our noses.”
Most people believe that elder abuse is all about Granny surrounded by family predators who just want to grab her money and throw her to the wolves. You’ll hear plenty of rumblings claiming that families and people closest to elders are responsible for 90 % of all elder abuse.

The National Care Planning Council is one of many who quote this figure. The article is titled “ Perpetrators of Elder Abuse are Usually Family Members:” . Even AARP claims that “ You’d like to think that elder financial abuse is committed mostly by strangers. You’d be wrong. In reality, it’s more likely to come at the hands of family members and caregivers”

Why does everyone blame families?

The latest 2011 study done by MetLife shows that in terms of dollars stolen from elders, families are not the most likely to steal the most dollars: After examining three months of national news feeds, plus other data, researchers determined that businesses stole $205,243,400; Family members and friends stole $11,515,737, Strangers stole $7,612,513, and Medicaid/Medicare fraud caused the most damage–$306,105,093.)

NAPSA (National Adult Protective Services Association) is another organization that blames families for most of the elder abuse that takes place today. Their figure again is 90%. Adult Protective Services investigates domestic settings. Since most of us don’t have lawyers or financial advisors living with us at home, my guess is that these culprits have been left out of the equation.

Families obviously do financially abuse elders, often by way of Power of Attorney, but few experts really talk about financial abuse by the larger “protection” industries that surround elders. Those systems sometimes exert more leverage against elders than you’d think. How about your state? There are hidden ways in which elders are abused for profit in this country, and you won’t see these described in any MetLife study.

Consider that just in the state of Maryland alone there’s a 6% bed tax that applies to nursing homes. The healthcare provider applies for and is reimbursed by Medicaid for that tax. You’d think those funds would then be matched by the state and used to support the elderly who are IN those beds. Not so. At least 35% of all federal Medicaid funds received in Maryland for the purpose of supporting nursing homes can be diverted for other purposes by using a process called IGTs, or “intergovernmental transfers” which enable this practice. Many states use the same tactics as Maryland, and some states don’t properly match federal Medicaid dollars with state funds. This problem slips by, unnoticed due to the underhanded tactics using Intergovernmental Transfers. California raised 3 billion in hospital bed taxes in 2013, and only 40 million went to hospitals. (Daniel L. Hatcher, The Poverty Industry, p. 140-142, New York University Press, 2016} The sad part is that one of the richest states, Maryland, receives the same score as one of the poorest states—Mississippi–when it comes to Nursing Home Quality of care. That score is a big fat D! (Ibid. p. 140} The strategy used by state IGTs to fill the general state coffers basically steals money from the infirm and elderly, leaving them to suffer, drugged to ease the pain caused by deadly bedsores, broken bones, lack of care, and financial fleecing. This, I’m sure also applies to fleecing the mentally ill, disabled, children in the foster care system, and prisoners.

What’s happening in U.S. nursing homes due to funds not been used as they should be–to increase staffing –is FAR more egregious than kids fleecing Granny, as awful as that situation is. Think BILLIONS of federal dollars being siphoned away from care of the elderly. Yet a Granny at home being fleeced for a few thousand dollars might command far more attention by AARP who targets elders as customers for insurance. I’m not saying family abuse doesn’t exist. Of course it does and it’s a horrific problem.

Families, though, are often considered the enemy by those who are in the protection industry, yet in many of the financial abuse cases involving family, the state courts and the people who systematically work in those courts use family financial abuse cases to “save” elders by deeming them incapacitated, and changing their lives forever—

This process can take place in 15 minutes behind the closed doors without the victim being present.

The elder, declared to be in an “emergency” situation (hearsay is acceptable—there are no high standards for evidence) is officially stripped of fundamental rights then put under the care of a professional for-profit individual guardian or company who then charges outrageous unaudited fees to the elder’s estate. Victims can’t do a thing about it because now have no rights. (If you would like to read how this system works, here are 450 documented cases. ) Without fundamental rights to make decisions (Granny has lost the right to hire an attorney, and her family has “lost legal standing”) she can be held in place like a bug pinned to a wall. She is usually drugged in a nursing facility after the guardian sells her home and belongings to ensure a nice paycheck for “services.” The family is completely shut out in many cases.

For decades, families of victims have complained about this removal of rights for profit. I receive hundreds of complaints on my facebook page, State and county courts are using gag orders to keep families of victims quiet. Meanwhile, guardians and/or conservators with complete control over these elders, fleece their estates without accountability or monitoring. If you still find all of this unbelievable, please read the New Yorker article about it:

The false impression out there blaming families and relatives for 90% of elder abuse means that guardians can protect their own paychecks by maligning families in court, which they often do. It also means that the public is distracted away from looking at the larger entities abusing the elderly right under our noses.

The Government Accountability Office published a shocking report by the “Director of Health Care—Medicaid and Private Health Insurance Issues,” Kathryn Allen, who had this to say about the breadth of state schemes that abuse the elderly:
“For many years states have used varied financing schemes, sometimes involving IGTs (intergovernmental transfers) to inappropriately increase federal Medicaid matching payments. Some states, for example, receive federal matching funds on the basis of large Medicaid payments to certain providers, such as nursing homes operated by local governments, which greatly exceed established Medicaid rates. In reality, the large payments are often temporary, since states can require the local-government providers to return all or most of the money to the states. States can use these funds—which essentially make a round-trip from the states to providers and back to the states—at their own discretion.”
We’re accusing families, friends and neighbors of causing problems for the aging population when there’s a humungous plot out there to use the elderly as cash cows, and it isn’t caused by family dysfunction. In fact, the intention of a lot of these organizations seems to be to separate elders from their families in order to make money.

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