Monday, January 14, 2008

Experts Say .- Elders Make Lucrative Targets

The Seattle Times .- Experts in crimes against the elderly say some older adults' mental and physical infirmities, social isolation and financial assets make them lucrative targets.

Bennett Blum, a forensic and geriatric psychiatrist from Arizona, who has testified before Congress about the financial abuse of the elderly, believes financial-abuse incidents are very common. He said they are seldom reported because the elderly victims fear retaliation and losing personal freedom, they're incapacitated or are intimidated by police or the justice system.

Rosemary Maxwell said she was reluctant to call police about her case because she feared seeming incompetent.

In Washington state, financial abuse is the most common form of elder abuse. The number of cases reported to Adult Protective Service (APS) has increased 22 percent from 2001 to 2006. They range in severity from the theft of a Social Security check to the theft of thousands of dollars, said Kathleen Birge, APS regional director.

"Our culture does not have a rich tradition of honoring our elders," King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said at an elder-abuse conference in Bellevue in September.

"If our culture is developing with an ethic to put our seniors out to pasture, is it any surprise that there are people in that pasture waiting to victimize them?"

— Nancy Bartley

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