Friday, April 3, 2009

Elder Abuse

One of my absolute hot buttons is when someone steals from an elderly person who cannot protect himself. Friday April 3, 2009, I appeared in such a case.

Five years ago, “Momma” (then in her late 80’s) had progressed to the point that she needed to live where she could be cared for – at first an “Adult Living Facility” (Assisted Living) and now skilled nursing care in a nursing home.

Five years ago ‘Momma’ was comfortable, financially. She had an annual income of $24,000; she needed $50,000 to take care of her needs and care. Her assets were almost $500,000.00 which, at $2300 per month, would have lasted over 25 years – much longer than her lifespan.

Today in court all we could determine was left was $22,000.00. Less than 5% of what was there five years ago.

I had obtained some bank and other financial records for the 15 months (back to January 2008) and reviewing that period I found that “someone” had used Momma’s debit card to the tune of $83,450.00 (that’s over $5500 per month) for such “necessities” as:
  • Cell Phones
  • Models – as in model cars, planes, etc.
  • Motels and restaurants within a 200 mile radius of here, including Dollywood
  • Booze at the ABC store
  • A membership in (she's now in her 90's!)
My role was to report to the court and protect “Momma’s” interests. I was fully prepared to do so and be “Rossiferous” in my approach to the daughter who had Momma’s power of attorney, and even more so to the daughter’s husband who also had access to Momma’s money. (By the way, husband claims there may be some identity theft – why, over 15 months, did they not notice that money was disappearing?)

I didn’t get a chance. Hizzoner the judge beat me to it. His questions were to the point and emphasized the pillage of Momma’s money. All I did was pitch the ball; he hit the homeruns.

Elder financial abuse happens every day to too many seniors. I’ve seen it too much. I’m happy to report the judge I was before today gets it, as do all the other judges I appear before on a regular basis.

President John F. Kennedy said “A society's quality and durability can best be measured by the respect and care given to its elder citizens."

If you see abuse, call for help. Adult Protective Services is interested. There’s also Elder Abuse Hotlines.


  1. Adult Protective Services is often the conduit to loss of independence and wealth for seniors. For example the Abernathy case in Marin County California where APS social worker took Mrs. Abernathy to a lawyer to change her will, leaving Abernathy's million dollar home to the social worker. Go through friends, not APS.

  2. You cannot generalize. That there's a bad apple in the APS batch should not be a surprise. There are bad apples in every group/type. I've seen "Friends" abuse the elderly; I'm getting into an estate where a daughter not only abused her mother, but virtually killed her due to neglect and mistreatment. Around here, the APS workers are honest, dedicated and very overworked.

  3. Thanks for this. I have a friend whose aunt wants to put my friend's mother into a nursing home. Mama is happy and healthy at home. With her widowed daughter sharing expenses, Mama wants for nothing. So the aunt called APS, who then went over the bank statements, etc. All was in tip-top order. Friend comes home for being out with a new gentleman friend (finally!), and discovers the aunt digging through her personals, with the excuse that she was looking for a suit that Mama wanted to wear... Aunt is 81 and wants custody of her older sister... Oy. The APS man was very, very nice to my friend once he caught on to the situation.