Friday, December 16, 2011

Elder law awareness: 46-year old Minnesota man commits elder abuse against own 86 year old mother

As a family member ages, he can become more dependent on his healthier spouse or grown children to care for him, keep him healthy, and continue to protect him as his health fails.
Unfortunately, sometimes the tables are turned.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, about two-thirds of all elder abuse perpetrators are exactly those whom the victim might have trusted most. Financially dependent spouses or adult children are the most likely to take advantage of the elder’s financial resources. Sadly, this is often due to alcohol and drug abuse.
Dementia is a leading risk factor in all kinds of elder abuse, including financial exploitation. Even senior citizens who suffer from a milder form of cognitive impairment, not yet recognized or diagnosed, can be vulnerable.
Elder law professionals are tremendous advocates for senior citizens who need to protect their resources, but the largely secretive and unreported nature of the crimes makes supporting the rights of the victims challenging.
There are variations in elder law from state to state, but many states have increased penalties for the victimization, financial or otherwise, of senior citizens. Since 2010, 24 states have joined an elder exploitation prevention program, called the Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program (EIFFE) which guards against fraud and swindling by involving physicians. The senior citizen’s physician, while not usually privy to the financial climate of the victim’s household, can now identify risk factors, refer patients for screening if they suspect an abusive situation, and report any mistreatment to Adult Protective Services.
According to an elder financial fraud survey, possible one in five senior citizens is financially victimized. The EIFFE’s outreach to the physicians, including dentists, has seen early success in identifying patients who may be victimized but cannot advocate for themselves. Patients may be brought to their doctors’ appointments by the very family members who are mistreating them, and the EIFFE’s continuing medical education trains the doctors how to handle any warning signs they may notice, even in the possibly tense environment of the waiting room.
Last week, The Minneapolis Star Tribune ( reported that a 46-year-old Minnesota man was charged this month with swindling his 86-year-old mother out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The article reported the man used the money to fund, among other things, a phone sex and pornography habit. Records show he had been using his mother’s savings for over ten years.
The elderly mother had her checking accounts seized, her income garnished, and a lien put on her home after she could not pay her tax bill.
Luckily, this is a case that made the headlines of Minnesota, Indiana, and Nevada newspapers, gaining needed attention for senior citizens and the elder laws that protect their resources.
A Hennepin County prosecutor, Mike Freeman, is quoted in one of the many articles written about the current case ( as stating that he has seen too many cases where an aging parent is swindled out of his or her own estate.
The son faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail and a $100,000 fine.

For further assistance with elder law please contact Adam Roa on his website Maryland Elder Law

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