Tonight the Peninsula Estate Planning Council welcomed San Mateo Deputy District Attorney Tara Heumann’s presentation on “Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse.”
Numbers: We need to be cognizant of elder abuse because the population of Americans over the age of 65 is growing dramatically. Projections from theUS Census Bureau show that there are 40 Million Americans over 65 today with projected growth reaching 85 Million by 2050. In California, the number of residents age 85 and older will nearly double by 2030.
Overview: Tara’s theme through out her presentation was that abuse needs to be reported. Situations can be forwarded to:
- Adult Protective Service http://smchealth.org/elderabuse 1-800-675-8437
- Public Guardian http://smchealth.org/node/275 1-800-675-8437 (TIES) 1-650-573-3900 (From outside CA)
- Ombudsman (if at a licensed facility)
- Mandated Reporter (Health practitioner, Policy, Fire Department, Clery, administrators and licensed staff of elderly service facilities, officers and employees of financial institutions that are depository institutions or state credit unions, ie banks).
Types of Abuse – there are typically 6 areas of abuse including:
- physical – hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, burning, or force causing injury
- sexual – engaging in sexual contact without consent
- emotional – harming self-worth or emotional well-being, name calling & scaring
- neglect – failing to meet basic needs like food, housing, clothing, & medical care
- abandonment – leaving elder alon or no longer providing care
- financial – illegally misusing an elder’s money, property, or assets.
Tara spent much of her presentation reviewing Financial Abuse which is a growing concern.
- Theft by false pretense – perpetrator lies to mom and because of the lie she gives money.
- Theft by larceny – classic perpetrator steals money from mom’s wallet without her permission.
- Theft by larceny – mom gives money to the perpetrator but mom did not have the capacity to give consent, or mom lackedthe ability to “understand and appreciate the transaction.”
The key is to REPORT the incident. Potential remedies include:
- Punish the wrong doer
- Deter the person from acting again
- Deter others from victimizing elders
- Remove the wrong doer from the community
- Gain a restraining order
Who are the perpetrators of elder abuse? According to the National Association of Adult Protective Services Administrators:
- 40% are Adult Children
- 15% are spouses
- 9% are grandchildren
- and 3% are Service Providers.
For children with aging parents, the Power Of Attorney can be an important decision to protect a parent. Signed in advance, the Power Of Attorney allows the child to enter the situation and take action. A power of attorney allows a child to:
- Change the bank account, control deposits and checks
- Change or cancel credit cards
- Limit access to vehicles
- Hire or fire people who are care providers
No one likes to lose their independence or dignity. As a corollary, shame and embarrassment take control and unfortunately, all too often, victims go unreported. A preventative measure is for a family to have a complete protection plan in place for aging parents including trusts, wills, advanced health care directives & the power of attorney. The power of attorney can provide a child the ability to protect their parents in bad situations.
Bottom line, if you see abuse, or you get the funny feeling in your stomach, be proactive and make a call. According to Tara, some signs to look for include:
- a senior living below their means beyond the norm
- unexplainable or inappropriate payments or gifts, ie a care giver receiving $25000 a month in salary, or the purchase of new cars.
- unexplainable checks or identity issues
- a sudden relationship that is too close, ie a care giver suddenly becoming the confidant or love interest of an aging parent
- inappropriate legal documents being signed like powers of attorney and transfers of property.
Aging parents are allowed to make bad decisions – that’s a part of life. Experts indicate that the BS radar is often one of the first faculties to diminish in the aging process. By taking advantage of someones diminished capacity associated with age, bad decisions are reclassified as crimes.