Saturday, February 25, 2012

This isn't elder abuse - this is more complex

If a child asks for money, is this abuse?
It depends.
If a stranger weasels money from a senior, it is fraud. Plain and simple.
Terming it Elder Abuse takes away from the sheer horror and the law that states that theft and fraud are criminal acts. I find a difference between fraud, in the case of strangers, e.g. cold calls from those claiming to be a grandson in trouble needing money.

There isn't enough data on senior fraud, nor elder abuse, as they are lumped together. Too many seniors are silent on this issue.
Elder abuse, when an adult child begs, coerces or steals money, can be a difficult situation.

In my experience, my clients know it is wrong to give away the precious little money that they have, but they do!
Out of guilt, or wanting to buy their adult children's love and attention, they will dig deep and transfer funds. How do we, as strangers, come to a conclusion without knowing the circumstances.

My late mother created this embroidery for me,
 after the birth of my three children (Dec. 26, 1988).
I have been working with a client to give her the language to stand up for herself. She know it is wrong, but when a son phones and says he has no food, a mother feels guilt. Is this Elder Abuse? I'm not sure.

We can teach and educate, however. You see it all the time on shows that feature those with addictions. It is often grandparents who will give in and give money to grandkids.

Roots and Wings
I told this client about the deer in our backyard. In July or August, whenever fawns are weaned, they continue to nudge the momma, who gives them a good head butt.
I assured my client that we need to give our children roots and wings.

If a child, on welfare, is unable to make ends meet, has a partner or a relationship or a child, but manages a trip to Kenya, you've got to think that there is something wrong.
A child who refuses to give contact information, while you collect their mail, including summons and parking tickets, you've got to be suspicious.
A relationship is a two-way street, and if seniors depend upon the child needing money for them to have a relationship, then you know there is something wrong. That said, we must respect their desire to give a child what they think they want, even if it isn't what they need.

Broken Record or Stonewalling
I talk to my clients, and register my doubt that it is wise to give a child money repeatedly, especially when the senior is on fixed-income herself.

I sugest she create some strong messages, and simply repeat them. Do not argue, cajole, barter, or bargain for love and attention. Do respond with anything other than one or two fixed messages that you repeat, like a broken record.

Write them down on a recipe card, if needs be:
I love you but I cannot afford to support you.
You need to get a job and to learn how to support yourself.
I will be hear to listen, but I will not send you any more money.

Please Note:
Taking advantage: Elder financial abuse on the rise. In the majority of elder financial abuse cases, abusers have a close connection to the victim and exploit this connection. Family members, friends, neighbours and caregivers are often the ones committing these crimes.

Signs of financial abuse
· irregular patterns of spending
· frequent withdrawals from bank accounts
· unusual credit card activity
· missing personal belongings or cash
· purchasing inappropriate items
· unpaid bills
· a new “best friend”
· unexplained debt

Forms of financial abuse
Do not be pressured, forced or tricked into:
· lending or giving away money, property or possessions
· selling or moving from your home
· making or changing your will or power of attorney
· signing legal or financial documents you don’t understand
· working for little or no money, including caring for children or grandchildren
· making a purchase you don’t want or need
· providing food and shelter to others without being paid


Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse senior safety line: 1-866-299-1011
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre: 1-888-654-9426
Crime Stoppers: 1-800-222-8477
York Regional Police seniors’ support liaison officer: 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6697

Taking advantage: Elder financial abuse on the rise

In November 2011, police announced a 33-year-old Markham man had been arrested in connection with a fraud investigation. Employed as a personal live-in caregiver, he was accused of defrauding an 84-year-old man who has Alzheimer’s disease. In just under a year of employment, he is alleged to have stolen more than $100,000 from his charge by accessing the man’s bank accounts. Police believe there may be more victims.

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