Every year, around 5 million older Americans are financially exploited by scammers and criminals. Additionally the elderly are susceptible to deceit by greedy or desperate family members. Sadly, this total number of victims only continues to grow.
One financial estimate states that seniors lose as much as $36.5 billion a year. However, it has been shown that these assessments are extremely underestimated. That’s because that assessment only accounts for reported cases. For each reported case, there are dozens of unreported ones.
1. The Facts
There is also a correlation between the exploitation of the elderly and their health. In fact, elder abuse victims who suffer financial exploitation die at a rate three times faster than those who haven’t been abused. This is extremely alarming, especially since exploitation among the elderly is proving to be more common than we think.
2. Why The Elderly?
Financial exploitation is a huge problem in the sense that it’s so profoundly destructive. In most cases of financial exploitation, the victim gave consent. However, this is due to the various processes that may affect an older adults brain. These changes may affect an older adult’s ability to manage personal finances, the most recognized of which are dementing illnesses.
3. Who are The Perpetrators?
Sadly about 60 percent of cases of elder exploitation involve a perpetrator who is a family member. In this situation victims are often unwilling, or unable, to seek justice. Sadly, most family members don’t intervene when another family member is suspected of elderly exploitation.
4. What’s The Solution?
So now that we know elderly exploitation is a serious epidemic, what’s the solution? Unless we figure out how to protect the assets of senior citizens from this epidemic, we’re going to come to a place where we’re seeing a lot of homeless elderly people on the street.
While we haven’t reached a place yet where the problem is solved, there are steps being taken in the right direction. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority put into effect the first uniform, national standards to protect senior investors.
Additionally, thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia addressed financial exploitation of the elderly in last year’s legislative sessions. However, these efforts aren’t quite enough to address the problem in it’s entirety.
Frankly, the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is the most effective solution. Creating a personalized life plan can deter exploitation, if not prevent it. It is critically important to choose agents (power of attorney, trustee, personal representative, etc) carefully and build transparency and accountability into the life plan. Adding a second person to bank and other accounts is the worst option and creates a number of adverse consequences, including the risk of exploitation. At LifePlanLaw.com, Cathy will discuss options to protect seniors and others from abuse and exploitation.
The Elderly Exploitation Takeaway
In short, elderly exploitation is a huge epidemic. If you or a loved one are a victim, call LifePlanLaw.com now to find out what can be done. If you are not a victim, make sure your life plan provides appropriate protections.
Everyone needs Why? Life planning effectively serves many goals and avoids many difficulties. For most people, life is predictable. That is why we speak of “probable” events and consequences. There are, however, a significant percentage of people who encounter “unexpected” events. Life planning is important for both. If you are interested in learning more about Life Planning, I encourage you to visit our