Stealing from the elderly – that’s just wrong!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been working with local authorities and a few financial institutions on Financial Exploitation of the Elder and lo and behold, here we are again this morning reading the headline of the local paper entitled “Woman Arrested After Exploiting Her Disabled Mother.”

According to the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, members of the Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division began investigating a burglary in which the victim’s debit card was stolen from a home in McHenry, IL. The same day as the burglary, an unidentified woman was seen using the victim’s debit card in Round Lake Beach. As it turns out, the unidentified woman is her 43 year-old daughter who decided to go on a shopping spree, opening credit cards in her mother’s name and having a hay day!

Did you know that this was such a common thing that now Illinois has put a new law into effect to protect the elderly? You can find out more about that here!

It’s unfortunate, but I hear about this kind of thing all the time – tho’ sometimes it’s not the children or those related to the elderly person, but the caretaker. In fact, it wasn’t but a couple of months ago at a neighbor’s house that one of my neighbor’s said I just have to tell you about what’s happened to my uncle.

She went on to tell how her 95 year-old uncle now has this “live-in” blonde, bodacious, caregiver (age 35) who has moved in, sold his belongings buying all new furniture to her taste, is now listed in his will and set to acquire his estate when he kicks the bucket, and has him hood-winked into thinking she cares for him and that she is his girlfriend (in some weird, gross fantasy). She was telling this and as I’m listening, my blood is beginning to boil because I started thinking, what if this were my parents?

One of her last statements after that grotesque story was, “and my brother and I can’t do anything about it.” See, this gentleman is a widow and has no children.

The next few days after that I gathered some pertinent information from within my network of elder-care providers and went back to her saying in essence you do have rights as family and here are the steps you need to take.

  • Contact my Elder-Law Attorney, talk to him about the matter, the estate, and legal rights
  • Contact the local Police Department, tell them what’s going on
  • Find out what company she works with (if there is one) and report your suspicions
  • Contact the Department on Aging

I cannot imagine stealing from my own parents. Those who are so trusting of us and yet we choose to abuse that trust and steal them blind. For those who have no conscience – THAT’S JUST WRONG! In fact, how can someone do that to another human being – especially the elderly?

It’s a shame we have to have legislation incorporate this kind of training for those in law enforcement, financial institutions and other entities to help us protect the elderly from this kind of abuse, but thank God – something’s being done to protect these people from their own children.

What are some of the stories you’ve heard? Please feel free to share – and make us aware!

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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4 Responses to Stealing from the elderly – that’s just wrong!

  1. Bill Stuehrenberg says:

    My mother is 89, her caregiver stole a bunch of her jewelry. My mother is still real sharp and noticed it the day she stole the jewelry. We called the police of course, they weren’t real hopeful that they could prove it. My sister and I investigated and raised hell with the caretaker agency until this thief messed up and threw part of the jewelry over the fence returning it. Somehow she got the idea that we wouldn’t press charges, so I have a bad habit of lying big deal. With this return of the jewelry there were finger prints and all kinds of info. They found where she had sold the gold and had her ID and signature on that receipt. Now she’s been arrested for felony thief, she goes to court in a couple of months and will probably just get probation. But until then I’m going to be raising hell for them to lock her up and throw away the key.


    • Sue Salach says:

      I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. Thank you for your commitment to seeing justice done!

      One suggestion for family caregivers who have hired caregivers to help their loved one in the home is to either document all jewelry with pictures and give a copy to the insurance company or make sure family heirlooms are in a safety deposit box or with a trusted family member.


  2. Susan Avello says:

    Truth! But that would require someone to actually participate in their rights as humans – this planet is messed up.


  3. Chris says:

    its a shame that some people wait until someone else is elderly or sick to use them to have the things they could have themselves if they work for it. Sad stuff.


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