Prevent Elder Abuse
Article Elder Abuse with a discussion about options for preventing it.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Prevent Elder Abuse
Elder AbuseA hidden epidemic
By Paul Shipp
KANSAS LEGAL SERVICES
BEWARE OF FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION
One of the most vulnerable groups in America today is the
elderly. The elderly suffer all forms of abuse; including
physical and emotional abuse, however, an often forgotten
form of abuse is that of financial abuse, also known as
A recent survey of various financial institutions with elderly
clients revealed that 83 percent of the institutions suspected
that some of their elderly clients were victims of financial
exploitation. Forms of suspected exploitation included
exploitation of the elders' finances by substance-abusing
relatives, roommates, neighbors, attendants at a nursing
facilities, or boarders; other forms of exploitation include
misappropriation of cash or belongings; and abuse of the
power of attorney.
A survey was done of a small number of banks in the New
York City, and it revealed that the most common forms of
financial exploitation of their elderly customers were
forgery, misappropriation of funds, abuse of joint accounts,
and abuse of the power of attorney. The responding banks
said that the most common person taking advantage of the
elderly client was a relative. It is shocking, but only 43
percent of the banks said they always reported the
exploitation. Most banks never report the exploitation for
fear of backlash or worry about lawsuits.
In Kansas all officers of banks are required (mandatory
reporters) to report financial abuse to the authorities. K.S.A.
39-1402. Under the current law the persons working in
banks who even suspect abuse must report it, or they could
face criminal charges. Bank employees should have no fear of
lawsuits as they are granted immunity.
You may know of someone who is being taken advantage of,
and you should report it to law enforcement. Here are some
clues that someone is being exploited financially:
· Unusual activity in a bank account, including activity
inconsistent with the victim's ability, such as the use of
an automatic teller machine on an account of a
· New acquaintances of the elder expressing a desire to
reside with the elder;
· Loss of amenities, such as the disconnection of utilities,
when the elder is known to afford such amenities; or
sudden decline in health and/or hygiene of the elder, as
money may be spent items wanted by the person
exploiting the elder (illegal drugs or even frivolous
purchases) and not the elder’s medication or other
· Depression, especially when an onset occurs when a
new roommate or relative has moved in;
· New signees or unusual activity on credit cards, for
example, someone purchasing items that are of no use
to the elder.
· Suspicious signatures on documents, particularly if the
elder is capable of writing as one who can sign for
himself/herself can sign and needs nobody to sign for
him or her.
If you know of an elderly person who is being exploited
financially and they live at home call 800-922-5330, and if
they reside in a nursing home-type facility call 800-842-
0078 and report it.
Some forms of financial exploitation occur when con artists
trick individuals into participating in investment scams or
bogus charitable organizations. Newsweek recently
reported that 5 million elderly people are victims of financial
exploitation every year, and that an enormous number of
baby boomers are heading for retirement, putting America
on the verge of an elder fraud epidemic. Many cases of
exploitation go unreported by seniors because many are
either too embarrassed about being duped or unaware that
the theft is happening. Individuals should be cautious of
participating in “too good to be true” investment
opportunities. If it is “too good to be true” then it probably is
not true. If you know of a scam or are a victim you should
report it the Kansas Attorney General Consumer Hotline:
When our country experiences disasters many come to you
seeking a financial donation. It is best to stick to well-known
organizations and decline to give out funds to organizations
you have never heard of.
Another form of financial exploitation occurs when identities
are stolen. Often, the elderly neglect to check their credit
reports to be certain nobody is taking advantage of them.
The law allows everyone to get a free copy of their credit
report annually from all three of the major credit reporting
agencies. Getting a copy of your credit report can be
accomplished by one of three ways:
2. Calling the toll free number of: 877-322-8228
3. Completing an Annual Credit Report Request Form and
mailing it to “Annual Credit Report Request Service” P.O.
Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281; the form can be
obtained online or can be provided to you by a local
Kansas Legal Services Office.
Always remember, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound
of cure!” and protect yourself and those around you. If you
are age 60 or over and have more specific questions about
protecting yourself or reporting financial exploitation please
call the Kansas Elder Law Hotline at 1-888-353-5337, or
you can set up a time to meet with a Senior Law Project
Attorney in your area. The Senior Law Project Attorney is
funded by your local Area Agency on Aging.
PROTECT YOURSELF REPORT ABUSE!
Whether old or young abuse of all kinds (physical, sexual,
emotional, or financial) is something one does not have to
put up with. The Elderly are especially vulnerable to being
abused, and many families are in denial that abuse of elders
has occurred in their own homes.
Occasionally we read of some shocking incident of elder
abuse in a nursing home. We read of nursing home staff that
has neglected to treat the elderly in their care, or even worse
that have actively beaten or injured the person in a malicious
way. Stereotypically many believe that the elderly are more
likely to be abused by nursing homes, or other professionals
who work in private professional institutions. Many elderly
fear the nursing home or other institutional setting because
of the belief that they will be abused and/or neglected in
such a setting. Shockingly, the statistics paint a different
picture. Did you know that most incidents of elder abuse do
not happen in a nursing home, or in a nursing-home type
facility? The reality is only about four percent of older adults
live in nursing homes, and the vast majority of nursing home
residents have their physical needs met without
experiencing any abuse or neglect. Most elder abuse and
neglect takes place within the confines of the home. The
usual abusers are family members, other household
members, and paid (home health) caregivers, the very
persons society trusts the most. The most common
relationships of victims (60 and older) to alleged
perpetrators were adult children (32.6%) and other family
members (21.5%), according to a 2004 Survey of State Adult
Protective Services. Even more shocking was the fact that the
likely abuser is female.
There is no single pattern of elder abuse in the home. At
times the abuse is a continuation of long-standing patterns
of physical or emotional abuse within the family. It is more
common that the abuse is related to changes in living
situations and relationships brought about by the older
person’s growing frailer, and becoming more dependent on
others around them for companionship, and for meeting
The following example was taken from a recent online
publication addressing the topic of Elder Abuse; it outlines a
Agnes, 85 years old, lost her husband last year. Because
of her own problems with arthritis and congestive heart
failure, Agnes moved in with her 55-year-old daughter,
Emily. The situation is difficult for all of them. Sometimes
Emily feels as if she’s at the end of her rope, caring for
her mother, worrying about her college-age son and
about her husband, who is about to be forced into early
retirement. Emily has caught herself calling her mother
names and accusing her mother of ruining her life.
Recently, she lost her temper and slapped her mother. In
addition to feeling frightened and isolated, Agnes feels
trapped and worthless.
It is understandable for the Elderly who are in a position
similar to Agnes' to feel helpless, but they should not
because help is available. While it is true that the infirm or
mentally impaired are more vulnerable to abuse, those who
do not have those obvious risk factors can also find
themselves in abusive situations. If you are in an abusive
situation do not tolerate it, because legal remedies are
available, and those remedies should be utilized.
1. Call the police. If you are being subjected to physical
abuse of any kind you should call the police. Doing such
a thing could drastically change any given situation, and
it could possibly land a family member or friend in jail;
however, your safety is more important.
2. Contact Adult Protective Services. 800-922-5330
(Statewide Hotline, reporting only open 24 hrs a day;
FAX written reports 785-296-0470); Explain the
situation to them and have them open an investigation.
3. Report abuse to your doctor or other professional.
If you cannot contact Adult Protective Services (because
you are afraid to make the attempt) directly then you
should tell your doctor and ask him or her to remain a
confidential informant. You can usually make a report
to your doctor in confidence and ask that the
information shared remain in confidence. Taking this
step protects you, as your doctor will not (should
not/cannot) disclose what you told them to the family
member or abuser. Under Kansas Law your physician is
a mandatory reporter and will notify authorities.
Usually Adult Protective Services will get involved and
open an investigation. If abuse is confirmed then Adult
Protective Services will work closely with other
agencies (including law enforcement) to ensure your
health and safety.
4. Contact your local Family Crisis Center. By calling the
following number. . . 888-363-2287 you can be placed in
touch with a local crisis center to get help.
5. Talk to an Attorney. Call the Elder Law Hotline (Toll
If you are a caregiver and believe you have been abusive, or
are in danger of abusing an older person in your care, there
is help available for you as well. You should find ways of
giving yourself a break and temporarily relieving the tension
of having total responsibility for an older person who is
completely dependent on you. There are many local respite
or adult day care programs to help you, contact your local
Area Agency on Aging for help.
If you suspect abuse, do not allow your fear of meddling in
someone else’s business stop you from reporting your
suspicions. You could be saving someone’s life, and
drastically improve the quality of their life; call the police or
Adult Protective Services.
Kansas Legal Services
The information in this booklet is provided as a public service by Kansas Legal Services, It was
compiled by Paul Shipp (Managing Attorney in the Flint Hills Offices of Kansas Legal Services). It
was written to provide you with helpful information regarding the subject matters covered. This
publication must not be used as a substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you require legal advice
then you should seek out a qualified, competent attorney.
Distributed by the Flint Hills Offices of Kansas Legal Services, 104 South Fourth Street, Manhattan,
KS 66502; Phone: 785-537-2943.
For assistance with Elder Law Questions, Call: 1-888-353-5337
If you need any of the articles contained within this pamphlet in larger print or alternative media so that you can
review it please feel free to contact the Flint Hills Offices of Kansas Legal Services directly. Anyone may copy and
reproduce the information contained herein so long as no fee is charged to the recipient.
Copyright © 2013
Kansas Legal Services
This publication may be reproduced and distributed
provided it is done at no cost to the recipient.
Funded in part by the
North Central Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging
Kansas Legal Services offers Free and Reduced
Cost Legal Services. If you need help with a
legal problem you may want to contact us, we
serve the entire state of Kansas: 800-723-6953
(Marilyn Harp, Executive Director)