Just over a week ago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on another senior citizen that was almost a victim of a financial exploitation scam. Convinced the person on the other end of the phone was her grandchild, a KaneCounty grandmother was coerced into believing her relative needed money. After the call, the grandmother walked into a Wal-Mart to withdraw the funds. Luckily, the clerk stopped the transaction and told the woman to check with her grandchild before mailing the money.
According to a recent study by MetLife, up to 5 million seniors are victims of elder abuse each year. According to the study, last year financial exploitation robbed seniors of $3 billion dollars.
Strangers are not the only culprits either; in fact, most elder abuse is perpetrated by people close to the victim – relatives, caretakers, neighbors, friends, and employees of care service institutions. As nearly 80 million baby boomers approach “seniorhood,” educating older adults about the legal solutions available to prevent and counteract elder abuse is essential.
Solutions for Seniors: Pre-Planning
All adults should appoint a trustworthy person to act as their agent under Powers of Attorney for Healthcare and Property to help manage their affairs should they become incapacitated. This important document will jump into action when the senior becomes unable to manage their own affairs, such as paying bills and making medical decisions. Powers of attorney are essential to protect a senior’s health and well-being when they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.
Reacting to Abuse:
In an emergency abuse situation, the court can appoint a temporary guardian to protect a victim of elder abuse. In many cases, the abusive party can be legally restrained from further communicating with the elderly victim, the senior’s accounts can be frozen to protect against further exploitation, and professionals, such as geriatric care managers, can step in to assess the senior’s health and create a care plan for the future.
Although the “it will never be me” mentality may be hard to break through, it is essential to have an open discussion with older adults and plan NOW in order to protect your loved one’s health and finances.
About the Authors:
Today’s guest post comes from Kerry R. Peck & Jesse Footlik of Peck Bloom. Peck Bloom attorneys have a combined experience of over 90 years in the field of elder law. Based in Chicago, they are recognized as a leader in the legal community. Peck Bloom was hired by the City of Chicago’s Department on Aging, to rewrite the Elder Abuse and Neglect Act.