Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Financial Elder Abuse Costs $3B Annually

Elder abuse is an increasingly common problem affecting the millions of aging Americans across the country.  Although elder abuse is often thought of in terms of physical abuse, in additional to mental and sexual abuse, there are many other ways that people take advantage of the elderly.  One of these major other ways is through financial abuse.  It is very easy for caretakers, family members, friends, or strangers to manipulate an elderly person's bank account, take out large sums of money, or use credit cards in the elderly person's name.  A recent report by MetLife, Inc. estimated that over $2.9 billion dollars are being taken from the elderly without their knowledge every year.  This is up 12% from a similiar study from 2008.  The most alarmingly part of these statistics is that 4 out of 5 financial abuse cases go unreported, so these numbers reflect an inaccurately low representation of the situation. 

It was estimated that, in half of these cases, strangers were the ones taking advantage of the elderly party.  Some people have made a living by staking out cars with handicap stickers, canes, or a look of confusion on the face of the older person and then take their money or try to befriend the person.  35% of the remaining cases came from parties the elderly person knew, such as neighbors, family, or friends, and the remaining 12-15% came from businesses.  Additionally, women were twice as likely as men to be the victim of financial abuse.  It is not quite sure why there is such a large difference between genders, but some propose that it may be because women are living longer than men.

Attorney Doug Stoehr has handled cases involving elder abuse in both nursing homes and hospitals. For more information on Attorney Stoehr's law firm, please click here.

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