The recent verdict by a New York jury finding Anthony Marshall guilty of stealing from his aging mother, Brooke Astor, while she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease is a sad reminder that abuse of elders does occur. Elder abuse is an issue that is all too common in our society, but one that rarely gets much attention. And it isn’t only the very wealthy who fall victim to elder abuse. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse “between 1 and 2 million Americans age 65 or older have been injured, exploited, or otherwise mistreated by someone on whom they depended for care or protection.”
Financial abuse of elders in particular goes under-reported in our culture, mainly because it leaves no visible scars to tip off friends and family. It is disheartening to discover that in most cases of financial exploitation of elders the perpetrator is a family member, often the victim’s own son or daughter.
When mom or dad begins to show signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, the child who lives closest is often the one who ends up serving as caretaker—both physically and financially; but that may not be the child best suited to the purpose, and it may not be the child mom or dad would have chosen had they been able. One way to prevent this from happening is to make your own decisions about who your physical and financial caretakers will be by executing a nomination of conservator, health care directive, and durable power of attorney. These three simple documents can allow you to choose the best person to care for you, and for your finances, when you are unable to care for yourself.
Don’t let someone you know become a victim of elder abuse. If you suspect a situation of elder abuse please call your local elder abuse hotline for help. If you want to do everything you can to prevent getting into a situation of financial elder abuse yourself, call our office.