Financial elder abuse comes in a variety of flavors, but the recipe usually has a few common ingredients: access, opportunity, and motivation. Take this news story out of Montana, for example, where a woman is accused of stealing $140,000 from her mother…
A Missoula woman stands accused of bilking her mother, who has Alzheimer’s, of $140,000 by using a reverse mortgage on her mother’s home to fund a condo purchase for herself….ﾠA doctor who treated Homer’s mother told police that she “was particularly vulnerable to undue influence.”
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In addition to the condo, this woman also spent her mother’s reverse mortgage loan by writing checks to a hair salon and her own two daughters. She also made substantial payments to financial institutions.ﾠ
Why are adult children often found to be perpetrators of financial elderly abuse? Sometimes it’s because they feel they are entitled to an inheritance and they are tired of waiting. Sometimes they are consumed by gambling, debt, or drug or alcohol addiction. And sometimes it’s because they see the money as rightfully theirs — fair compensation for being “stuck” as the primary or only caregiver for their aging parent.
Meanwhile elderly financial victims of family members are often unaware they are being ripped off, or they don’t seek help because they are paralyzed by fear and shame. How do you bring yourself to turn in a child — especially if that child is your primary caregiver? Or legal guardian.
Every time one of these stories makes the news, it always makes me wonder about all the financial elder abuse that goes unreported and undiscovered.
If you suspect that you, an aging parent, or an elder you know, is the victim or financial exploitation, contact your state’s office of Adult Protective Services, which can be found by using this online directory of elder abuse helplines and hotlines.