group-discussionLinkedInI was fascinated and thrilled by a recent discussion in the Elder Care Professionals group on Linkedin. The discussion, Elder abuse can happen to anyone. Do you know the warning signs? sparked a conversation with 49 comments! The original article, posted by Judy Heft, highlights a case study with a 101 year old man who was financially abused by his home caregiver. The article concludes with a list of warning signs to look out for to prevent future cases of elder abuse.

Financial abuse falls under the umbrella of financial exploitation, which is defined by the NYC Elder Abuse Center as involving the unauthorized or improper use of funds, property, or assets. This can include coercing the change of a will, bank account, or property transfer, using cash or credit cards without permission or knowledge, and/or forging signatures on checks. (Click here to read about this and other forms of elder abuse.)

Of the 49 comments generated by the discussion, some were stunning observations, some included painful personal and/or professional financial abuse cases experienced by group members and others continued the debate about what financial elder abuse entails and ways to restore an older adult’s future after they have experienced abuse. Many comments pointed to factors, such as isolation or perception of an older adult being unable to manage their own finances, that make older adults vulnerable to financial abuse. This discussion was important because elder financial abuse cases are complicated and can be prevented by professionals working in various ways in the elder justice field. The more aware we are of the signs of elder financial abuse, we can prevent future cases, respond to existing cases by recognizing, intervening or making referrals and help raise awareness among the general public about these important issues.

Several LinkedIn group members offered great resources:

Ageless Alliance
A grass-roots organization aimed at connecting people of all ages to identify, prevent & eliminate elder abuse. This organization features resources & helpful links on their website.

Bennett Blum, M.D.
An internationally acclaimed physician specializing in both forensic psychiatry & geriatric psychiatry.

A webcast, Financial Abuse of the Elderly
This webcast, by Morningside Ministries, is available by visiting http://www.mmlearn.org/index.php/online-videos.html & clicking on the podcast title.

OMG I’m Getting Older and So Is My Mom
A podcast featuring Mary Jones, Executive Director of the Elder Rights Center of the Area Agency on Aging, talking about elder fraud, abuse & exploitation.

Paul Greenwood, San Diego District Attorney
A video featuring Mr. Greenwood speaking about elder abuse & exploitation.

Undue Influence: An Insidious Form of Elder Abuse
A guest blog written by Lisa Nerenberg & featured on the NYC Elder Abuse Center’s Elder Justice Dispatch Blog.

This vibrant and engaging discussion highlights the value that I have found from being a member of the Elder Care Professionals LinkedIn group. I appreciate the resources and insights that are shared and have learned from my fellow group members.

by Cara Kenien, LMSW, MPA, Social Media Manager, NYCEAC

13 Responses to Elder Financial Abuse Discussion Explodes in LinkedIn Group

  1. Leanne Miller says:

    This is a very good summary of the discussion on LinkedIn. I have found that the topic of elder financial abuse receives a great amount of feedback in the various LI groups. People are concerned and engaged about this issue.
    Being able to share and comment about my mom’s exploitation has helped to heal some of the pain I feel from this tragic event. This has changed the direction of my life and I hope that we can continue to increase awareness about elder abuse and exploitation.
    Social media has allowed all of us to communicate our stories and ideas to hopefully help reduce the prevalence of this issue.
    Some major changes need to happen to stem this abuse. One being, in my opinion, modernizing our elder law documents to limit the powers of a DPOA. We must also hold perpetrators accountable for exploiting a senior, even if it’s a family member.
    This is for my mom and my dad, both victims of some form of abuse.
    Thank you, NYC Elder Abuse Center.

  2. Like Leanne (a friend of mine – lovely lady!), both my parents were exploited. In my dad’s case, it led to his death. And in our case, as in so many, the local authorities would do nothing. I agree the perpetrators need to be held accountable, but I also think it needs to be said that the police need to do more than tell the victims to take the perpetrator to civil court. Elder Financial Exploitation is a CRIME, it’s not only a civil matter — and the authorities need to start taking a harder line on this or the perpetrators will keep on doing this with impunity.

    • Cara Kenien says:

      Hi Pam, I also want to thank you for your “Last Will and Embezzlement” film and for all you have done to bring awareness to elder abuse and impact the elder justice field.

  3. Judy Heft says:

    Thank you for mentioning my blog in this article. You can read the original article in the newsroom of my web site http://www.judithheft.com. I have seen this abuse over and over. Our seniors are vulnerable and we need to have an active advocacy role when working with them. So often, they are not only the victims of family abusers but of professional scammers. It is up to us to keep this topic in the news by writing and talking about it and educating. I am thrilled that my blog brought this to the forefront of the news again.
    Judy Heft

  4. Cara Kenien says:

    Hi Pamela, I am sorry to hear about the difficult and painful experienced you and your family faced as a result of elder abuse. Thank you for your comment and for sharing your thoughts about this issue.

  5. […] up to date and get involved in conversations about elder abuse! Check out our recent posts on an exciting LinkedIn conversation and the depiction of elder abuse in the Academy Award nominated “Silver Linings […]

  6. Debbie Goodman says:

    My mother was “financial abused” by her personal banker at Citibank!!! When my mother was 85 years old, her banker booked her into a HELOC loan, for $10,000, for 30-years, with a 3-year prepayment penalty! I didn’t find out about it until after my mother’s death. No one at the bank wanted to tell me what it was for. In fact, the banker told me “That’s Private, you just have to pay it off”. According to the “Client Liason” in NY, the first check from the loan, for the amount of $4,505.80, made out to “CASH” (in what appears to be the banker’s handwriting) allegedly went to bring my mother’s checking account balance to zero. What they were saying is that my mother was overdrawn (to the tune of 26.25% interest)! I requested documentation to see when she was overdrawn, for how much, and how long it had been allowed to grow at that rate of interest. They refused to provide any documentation, which is a violation of my rights, as my name was also on the checking account!

  7. I own a homecare company and a care manager that I was receiving referals from went to a mutual client and told him he owed us 1770.00. He wrote a check to her. We did not find out about it until I went to send him a final bill and he told us he paid her…. She thinks she didnt do anything wrong and that I owe her money for the referral. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do or who I can file a complaint with?

    • Cara Kenien says:

      Hi Stephanie – Thank you for your comment and being on the alert for financial exploitation. The NYC Elder Abuse Center (NYCEAC) is unable to provide case consultations on the Elder Justice Dispatch Blog. NYCEAC does, however, provide case consultation services to professionals if the abuse situation is regarding a NYC residing older adult. You can access NYCEAC’s case consult service by completing the brief form on the Contact Us section of the website.

  8. Gayle Elliott says:

    We have a FAST Team (Financial Abuse Specialist Team) in our somewhat wealthy county–Johnson County, KS. I volunteered and helped, in small part, put away a younger man preying upon a senior over an extended period of time–even after he was arrested–he had his friends doing it! The gentleman in the DA’s office truly cares about his mission and that makes all the different–even finding professionals who care. Many surrounding counties are so overwhelmed with other “more pressing” cases that they aren’t able to devote time toward crimes against the elderly. Our county’s model is great and I’d love to see it replicated elsewhere.

    • Cara Kenien says:

      Hi Gayle, Thank you for your comment and for sharing information about the FAST team in your locality. The NYC Elder Abuse Center agrees with you that multidisciplinary teams are incredibly effective in developing effective responses to elder abuse. We need to encourage legislators to advance these teams nationwide.

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