By Rick L. Law of the multi-generation law firm of Law Elder Law in West suburban Kane County in Illinois. Home of the Estate Planning Center at Law Elder Law.
We recently spoke with senior victims advocate Linda Voirin, LSW. She is the victims’ advocate for the Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Unit, Office of Joseph H. McMahon, Kane County (Illinois) state’s attorney. Throughout our discussion, Ms. Voirin outlined the difficulty in prosecuting senior financial exploitation and elder-abuse cases.
We wanted to know how often a person is victimized because, even though they’re not technically incapacitated, they become vulnerable due to aging. Her response was both shocking and saddening.
“ At least two-thirds of the time. It’s usually some vulnerability that’s been identified by the abuser. Sometimes it’s mental; sometimes it’s physical. It can be as simple as the person no longer being able to do their banking by themselves and so they’re asking others to do it for them. Maybe there is a vision loss and they are asking others to sign checks. These disabilities open the door for someone to be able to take advantage of them.
One of the biggest problems is that the abuser often is the person providing care to the older person. And the older person needs that help so much that they often tolerate the abuse. That is the number one reason why most abuse is never reported — because the senior’s need is so great. For example, if you take away their son, grandson, or whoever away from them who is assisting them in being able to stay at home, now they are in great fear that they are going to have to go to a nursing home — and often that’s the truth.
So when the senior reviews the two scenarios — stay at home and put up with the abuse, or don’t put up with the abuse and go to the nursing home — they decide to put up with the abuse. It’s the lesser of two evils.
An additional issue is the embarrassment and the shame. We see this on the witness stand. They admit that they didn’t want to tell anybody that they have a disability, because if they tell their family members, they’ll say, “Dad, you can no longer take care of yourself. We’re going to need to look into other options” (go to a nursing home).
So that’s an important piece to address before you can be serious about taking an abuser out of a home. When you go in and take the adult-child caregiver from a home and disrupt the senior’s life, we have to know what kind of an impact that has. If the senior has to move to an assisted-living facility, the lack of familiarity can be difficult to manage. It may be necessary; however, the elderly person might feel a sense of loss of independence.”
Too many families needlessly lose everything they have. Don’t let that be you. If you need help building a fortress around your estate to protect it from creditors, predators, and the cost of chronic disease, give our office a call at 800-310-3100. Your first consultation is absolutely free. We’ll let you know what steps you need to take, right now, to protect yourself and your family. Call now, because when you’re out of money, you’re out of options!
Rick L. Law, Attorney, Estate Planner for Retirees.
Rick has been named the #1 Illinois elder law estate planning attorney for the past 8 years in a row by Leading Lawyer Magazine. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, AARP Magazine, TheStreet.com, and numerous newspapers and articles. Rick is the lead attorney for Law Elder Law, LLP, focusing in Estate Planning, Guardianship, and Nursing Home Solutions. His goal is to give retirees an informed edge when it comes to dealing with an uncertain future. Get flexible retirement strategies that work during good times and bad, plus information on how you can save your home and assets from being used to pay for long term care. Call 800-310-3100 for your free consultation now!