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April 29, 2013

Elderly Financial Abuse Costs Seniors $2.9 Billion Annually


By J.R. SCHRADER
The Southwest Times

 An estimated one million older Americans lose $2.9 billion each year through the financial abuse of the elder generation.
The perpetrators are not thugs with guns or threats or strangers, but family, neighbors, friends, caregivers and financial officers.
To combat this menace and help the elderly preserve finances, possessions and homes, the New River Valley Elder Justice Coalition will sponsor a Community Dialogue on Financial Abuse among Older Adults.
The session will be held Tuesday, May 7, at Highland Ridge Rehab Center, Dublin, from   9:30 a.m. to noon.
Brunch will be served. To register, call 674-4193 by May 1. More information about this event is available by calling Janet Brennend, Agency on Aging at 980-7720.
A panel representing law enforcement, long-term medical care, banking and finance and adult protective services will provide information during a question and answer session.
An open discussion on elder financial abuse and resource sharing will also be part of the session.
A grant from the Community Foundation of the New River Valley is funding the session.
Fraud by strangers accounts for 51 percent of elder abuse fraud, with business sector another 12 percent. Medicare and Medicaid fraud adds for percent.
Women are twice as likely as men to become victims of such abuse, most of them 80 to 89 yeas of age, living alone and requiring some level of help.
The typical victim is a frail white female, 70-89 years of age with cognitive impairment. She trusts others, is lonely or isolated. Family members are scattered and seldom visit or uninvolved.
Nearly 50 percent of the perpetrators are men, 30 to 59 years of age.
The abuse often leads to credit problems, health issues, depression and loss of independence, as well as finances, possessions and homes.
Many people know of such incidents, but seldom become involved until it is too late.
There are similar incidents that have occurred locally, but not reported nor any measures taken to overturn them. Recovering the losses are difficult.
One case in Georgia involved a couple, she the caregiver and her husband, were indicted for defrauding an elderly veteran with dementia out of about $182,000. Police say the couple took about $500,000 from the 80-year-old man.
 Another case, in California, involved a CEO and CFO of an investment firm who were charged in 66 felon cases of bilking older investors out of $2.3 million over eight years.
 These may be the exception, but hundreds of thousands of lesser amounts add up to $2.9 billion a year.


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