November 4, 2013   Elder Care

The Shocking Statistics of Financial Elder Abuse

In 2008, Brian Litwak received a letter from Medicare stating that he was suspended from the program because he had not paid his Medicare fees for five months. This was just the beginning of the nightmare for Litwak, who also discovered his assets whittled down from $250,000 to $12,000 after moving into an assisted living facility in Tuscon. Litwak soon realized that he was the victim of financial elder abuse at the hands of his brother and power of attorney, who stole much of Litwak’s assets and neglected to pay Litwak’s Medicare fees.
The statistics of financial elder abuse are staggering. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that over 500,000 elder Americans suffer from financial elder abuse annually. Moreover, this number is likely higher due to the many Americans who suffer from such abuse and do not, or cannot, report it. This number is apt to continue to increase, as those 65 and older will make up 20 percent of the population by 2050.
The consequences of elder abuse are very real. In 2009, elderly Americans lost an estimated $2.9 billion to financial exploitation. Moreover, elderly Americans suffering from elder abuse often experience significantly higher levels of psychological distress than older individuals who have not experienced abuse.
As in Litwak’s situation, a victim’s family members are the most common perpetrators of financial elder abuse. However, abuse can also occur at the hands of many different individuals, such as staff members at care facilities, friends, and con artists.

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