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Financial Elder Abuse Not What the Doctor Ordered

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Scotts Valley, CAThe challenges surrounding Financial Elder Abuse are magnified by an increasingly aging population, together with heightened dependence on others for care and a reduced cognitive capacity. The latter provides a conduit for unsavory activity by family members and caregivers who see an opening and take advantage of an elderly individual.

An example of elder abuse financial exploitation was recently seen in California, after a caregiver was arrested on suspicion of stealing more than $20,000 from an elderly client to whom the accused was providing in-home care.

As chronicled in the Santa Cruz Sentinel (11/6/13), the potential for elderly financial abuse was first noticed by the elderly man’s wife, who noted money had been withdrawn from her husband’s trust account over a period of several months. Given that her husband is ill, in-home care was arranged for the man.

That’s when money started to go missing, according to the report. An investigation ensued, which included the procurement of a search warrant for the in-home caregiver’s residence. The search turned up two of the elderly man’s credit cards at the apartment belonging to the 42-year-old caregiver.

Just how the accused allegedly gained access to the trust account was not reported. Be that as it may, the financial elderly abuse case culminated with the arrest of Crystal Laverne Gilbert, who faces charges of elder financial abuse, grand theft and embezzlement. Gilbert, at the time of the report, remained in jail while attempting to raise $50,000 in bail.

Advocates for the elderly are calling for financial elder abuse law to be strengthened in an effort to combat increasing incidents of financial elder abuse. To that end, the elderly are preyed upon by a vast cornucopia of ne’er-do-wells who take advantage of the elderly’s trusting nature and diminishing capacity to realize when they are being had.

Examples of financial exploitation of the elderly range from sales of financial products, which are completely inappropriate for the age of the investor, to thefts by caregivers who cultivate a level of trust with the elderly client, then use that trust to take financial advantage.

Scams are also a popular method of hoodwinking elderly individuals, either over the phone or in person on the front stoop.

The worst examples of elder financial abuse are those carried out by family members who often compete with one another for the loyalties of an increasingly frail individual to control cash, stocks, bonds, real estate or other assets.

While a financial elder abuse attorney is often brought in to undo the damage performed by a vast array of scam artists, it is the elder abuse cases involving financial exploitation by an elderly person’s own family that proves the most compelling, and the saddest.


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