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Financial Exploitation Of Elderly People By Home Care Aides

1475 words - 6 pages

Frank is 82 years old. His wife, Margaret, passed away several years ago. He owns his home and has a very good retirement income. Over the past year, Frank has developed some dementia and is no longer able to handle his finances or perform many of the activities of daily life. His family decided that he needed some help since they are not able to see him on a regular basis. They hired a local home health care agency to send a caregiver to assist Frank. Betty, the agency home care aide, sees him on a daily basis and they have become good friends. Frank thinks of Betty as a daughter. Recently though, Frank’s daughter, Janet, has noticed that her dad seems different; he is more depressed than usual and his home seems to be in disrepair; where it never has before. She wonders what is going on and decides to call the agency supervisor.
According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (2008), a majority of the wealth and money in the United States is owned by senior citizens. Many elders have worked their entire lives and amassed large savings and asset accounts. They have better retirement incomes and often own their homes. These facts show one reason the elderly are often targets of financial abuse or exploitation. Elders are also taken advantage of by people whom they trust, whether it’s family, friends or a trusted home care aide. Often, it is easier for them to have someone else handle their finances because they are afraid of making a mistake due to memory deterioration or simply aren’t physically able to make the transactions themselves. The Illinois Department on Aging (2012) defines financial exploitation as “the misuse or withholding of an older person’s resources to the disadvantage of the elderly person and/or the profit or advantage of another person” (para. 11). Financial exploitation can also be more thoroughly defined as taking or withholding money or assets from an elderly person, with or without permission, or when the elder does not have a reasonable level of cognitive ability to make an informed decision regarding their finances. Supervisors in home health care agencies can help protect their elderly clients by understanding how easily financial exploitation occurs, how to detect it and what to do once it has occurred.
Financial exploitation of the elderly happens very easily for many reasons and according to Thomas L. Hafemeister (2003), financial abuse can be as devastating to an elderly person as a violent crime or physical abuse. The Illinois Department on Aging (2006) notes that “In Illinois, 58% of elder abuse reports allege financial exploitation” which is a small percentage of actual cases (para. 4). Many cases go unreported for fear of retaliation by the perpetrator or they don’t want to get anyone they know or love in trouble. Because of this, financial abuse is extremely hard for home health care supervisors to identify. Elders that are being financially abused can become...

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