CHICAGO — Rosalind “Joy” Walker died without her daughter or grandchildren by her side. The Alzheimer’s patient had been a victim of elder fraud, in which the woman’s attorney, Janet Colton, next-door neighbor Joanne Turner and Betty Miller, a supermarket clerk, had conspired to obtain power of attorney and guardianship of the elderly woman, estranging her from her daughter, Glynnis Walker.
After learning about fraud against the older, more vulnerable segment of the population and the legal system, through her own personal experience, Walker wrote “Stealing Joy: A True Story of Elder Abuse and Fraud” to illuminate the risk and ruin of what she said has become a national epidemic.
“These seemingly everyday people were the ones who targeted my family. During their association with my mother, they abused her – psychologically, emotionally and financially, isolated her from her family, defrauded her, changed her will, stole her identity and mine,” Walker said. “In the end, they arranged for her death.”
The Older Americans Act of 2006 calls elder abuse “exploitation,” and defines it as “the fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized or improper act or process of an individual, including a caregiver or fiduciary, who uses the resources of an older individual [generally accepted as anyone over 60] for monetary or personal benefit, profit or gain or that results in depriving an older individual of rightful access to or use of, benefits, resources, belongings or assets.”
In 2011, the last recorded statistic, victims of elder fraud lost more than $2.9 billion in the United States alone. This was an increase of 12 percent over 2008. In spite of the frequency of the crime, with one in 20 older adult’s indicating that they have been victims of financial abuse in the recent past, only one in 44 cases of elder financial abuse is ever reported.
“It’s like years ago, when child abuse was a topic no one talked about,” Walker explained. “It’s not like it wasn’t happening; it just wasn’t being talked about. Elder abuse is like that, now. When people are older, they often don’t have a family or are far away from that family. They’re vulnerable, just like little kids, and we have to fight for all of them.”
Springville Concord Elder Network-SCENe:
For more information about the Springville Concord Elder Network contact: SCENe at 592-7599 or Ginny Krebs at 592-9885.
Click for Updates, More Cases and Resources
Search LABELS for More Resources