Articles Posted in Elder Abuse

Financial abuse of elders is an unfortunate reality. In fact, elders are often specifically targeted by criminals looking to commit fraud and identity theft. There are many ways to prevent fraud and identity theft. It is important for elders, or their loved ones, to monitor their credit, and regularly review account statements to try to prevent or stop financial abuse.

All Californians are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. To get your free annual credit report visit www.annualcreditreport.com. This federal government approved website will enable you to pull your credit, or the credit of a loved senior, and receive a full report once each year.

While one free credit search is made available each year, elders would be smart to check their credit 2 or 3 times per year. Credit reports typically cost less than $20, and provide invaluable peace of mind by confirming that unauthorized accounts have not been opened, nor have illegitimate items been charged.

In addition to obtaining regular credit reports, it’s a good idea to have duplicate copies of monthly account statements sent not only to the elder, but to their trusted Financial Advisor, attorney, CPA, or a trusted family member. This will provide additional confirmation that all charges appear accurate, nobody has acquired the account number, and it is not being used without the consent of the elder.

Warning signs of fraud on bank statements may include:

*Withdrawals from outside of the elder’s primary area residence;
*Repeated withdrawals, particularly if the elder spends most of their time at home; and
*Checks written to unusual or unfamiliar people, organizations, or stores.

Keeping an eye on credit is important for Californians of all ages. However, it is especially important to monitor credit statements and account balances for elders who may have declining mental capacities, or medical conditions such as dementia that put them at greater risk for becoming a victim of financial elder abuse.

If you suspect, or confirm that your loved elder is the victim of financial abuse in California there are certain steps you should take. You may report any suspicion of abuse to the National Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-677-1116. In California, reports can be made to the local county Adult Protective Services Agency or to local law enforcement.
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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Elder abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”

In a study conducted by the WHO in 2017, it was estimated that 15.7 percent of people aged 60 or older experienced some sort of abuse, such as physical, verbal, emotional and/or financial, when the WHO reviewed collected data from 52 studies in 28 countries. Of note, in institutions such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, 2 out of 3 staff members reported committing elder abuse within the past year. The WHO described abuse in institutions to include, but not be limited to, “physically restraining patients, depriving them of dignity (for instance, by leaving them in soiled clothes) and choice over daily affairs; intentionally providing insufficient care (such as allowing them to develop pressure sores); over- and under-medicating and withholding medication from patients; and emotional neglect and abuse.”

The need for innovation and transformative procedures is highly desired in the elder community. In a press release issued last month by Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez, they announced that Rutgers’ Institute of Health, Healthcare Policy and Aging Research School is setting out to change those statistics and was permitted over $1.4 million in federal grants from The Elder Justice Innovation Grants which was established by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) in 2016. In their joint press release, Sen. Booker and Sen. Menendez agreed that Americans should not have to worry about falling prey to exploitation and abuse as they age, especially when suffering from an incurable disease such as Alzheimer’s.

Thousands of elders become victims of financial abuse each year. Studies have sought to determine why so many elders fall prey to financial scams, and by and large, it is the vulnerability of elders that puts them at greatest risk for being victimized. Whether that abuse is initiated via phone scams, where thieves claim to be from the IRS, or via people who are trying to scam elders via a trust mill, there are a lot of people seeking to take advantage of elders in California.

Senior seminars, which advertise a free lunch, are yet another common scam used for financial predators to target potential victims. The scam works like this:

*There is a “Senior Seminar” advertised/offered which provides a free lunch.

There are plenty of opportunists (read: criminals) looking for ways to obtain the sensitive, personal information of seniors. From digging through trash, to stealing from mailboxes, identity theft is alive and well in 2015. Many criminals specifically seek out the information of California seniors, who may be more vulnerable to having their identity stolen.

While there is no foolproof way to guarantee that your private information (date of birth, bank account numbers, social security number, etc.) won’t fall into the hands of someone with bad intentions, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood that you or an elder you love will fall prey to identity theft.

  1. Shred Everything

Nearly 70% of elder abuse victims are women, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. It is worth noting that the population of elder women is much larger than the population of elderly men in the United States, however, that does not make these alarming statistics any less disturbing.

Why are women the victims of elder abuse more often than men? There are a few reasons most experts tend to agree upon.

  1. Elderly females may be seen as easier targets for physical, financial, emotional, or even sexual abuse.

In California, the family of an elder who has passed away due to nursing home neglect or abuse has the right to file a lawsuit against the perpetrators seeking damages for the pain and suffering the elder was subjected to, and the wrongful death caused by the neglect.

To prove that an elder died in a California nursing home due to neglect, experienced California elder abuse attorneys will help you complete a thorough investigation to determine whether the evidence supports the necessary elements to prove the defendant failures caused the death. The following include some of the criteria that will be analyzed:

1.Supplying the necessaries of nutrition, hydration, hygiene or medical care for an elder or dependent adult;

By law, the staff members employed by California nursing homes are required to report health changes observed in the elders residing in their facilities. Unfortunately, all too often these changes are unreported. The change in condition of a resident may not be reported for a variety of reasons, including fear that the nursing home be may fined for understaffing, or neglecting California elders residing within the facility. In other cases, a resident who has experienced a rapid deterioration in condition, may indicate that isolation, neglect, or even abuse is occurring within a facility.

Failure to report changes in condition to an elder’s doctor and family members is a violation of the law.

Changes in an elder’s condition which must be reported may include, but is not limited to:

Isolation is a form of Elder Abuse in California, per California Penal Code §15610.43. Elder abuse is a violation of the rights of elders by those charged with caring for them in facilities, such as California nursing homes. California nursing homes are required to provide reasonable care, and any intent to do otherwise constitutes a criminal action.

Elder Isolation may include:

*Any intentional actions, which prevent an elder resident from making or receiving phone calls, or having contact with family and friends outside of their residential, nursing facility.

In California, financial elder abuse is defined in Welfare and Institutions Code Section 15610.30. The code states: “Financial abuse of an elder or dependent adult occurs when a person or entity… takes, secrets, appropriates, obtains, or retains [or assists in doing any of these] real or personal property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful purpose or with intent to defraud or both.”

Although financial abuse is far too prevalent, the best defense against opportunists who would seek to defraud elders out of their money, property or belongings, is preventing the abuse in the first place. Although there is no surefire way to ensure that your loved one’s finances are protected at all times, there are warning signs to look for, which can indicate that financial abuse is taking place.

In an effort to best protect a loved elder from financial abuse including a loss of their property, assets or money, be on the lookout for these warning signs that a caregiver, a family member or even a staff member at a California nursing home is victimizing elders:

For many Californians the time comes when their loved elderly parent or family member may need some help within their home. Whether they need help with meal preparation, personal health and hygiene, or just some help around the home and with errands, finding the right person to care for your elder can be stressful.

Types of in-home caregivers for elders may range from a weekly housekeeper to a certified nursing assistant, or skilled care worker. The range of services provided may be cleaning the home, dispensing medication, helping the elder with transportation, or home care workers may help with personal care such as bathing, and monitoring overall health.

Once you determine the type of care your loved elder needs, there are many places to find compassionate, qualified in-home caregivers. Consider beginning your search by asking for referrals from friends and family, or from a doctor specializing in senior care. You can also check job postings such as those found in the newspaper, or online on sites including www.Caring.com.