Types of Elderly Abuse
Elderly abuse is the use of power and control by one individual to affect the well-being and status of another, older, individual. Elder abuse tends to take place where the senior lives: most often in the home where abusers are apt to be adult children; other family members such as grandchildren; or spouses/partners of elders. Institutional settings especially long-term care facilities can also be sources of elder abuse.
It’s difficult to take care of a senior when he or she has many different needs, and it’s difficult to be elderly when age brings with it infirmities and dependence. Both the demands of care-giving and the needs of the elder can create situations in which abuse is more likely to occur. The responsibilities and demands of elder care-giving, which escalate as the elder’s condition deteriorates, can also be extremely stressful. The stress of elder care can lead to mental and physical health problems that make caregivers burned out, impatient, and unable to keep from lashing out against elders in their care.
Abuse of elderly takes many different forms, some involving intimidation or threats against the elderly, some involving neglect, and others involving financial chicanery. There are several types of abuse of older people that are generally recognized as being elder abuse, including:
- Desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
- Deserting a dependent person with the intent to abandon them or leave them unattended at a place for such a time period as may be likely to endanger their health or welfare.
Financial Abuse or financial exploitation
- the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else’s benefit and involves unauthorized use of an elderly person’s funds or property, either by a caregiver or an outside scam artist.
An unscrupulous caregiver might
- Convincing an older person to buy a product or give away money
- Engage in identity theft
- Forge the elder’s signature on pension cheques or legal documents
- Misuse an elder’s money, personal checks, credit cards, bank cards, accounts or property
- Steal cash, income checks, possessions and household goods
- Often try to make friends with you to gain your trust. Be cautious if someone you do not know who is offering a business proposition seems anxious to discuss your personal life or seems overly friendly
Deprivation of money or other property
- Extortion by a loved one, or explicit pressure about an inheritance
- Eviction from own home
- Illegal or unauthorized use of a person’s property, money, pension book or other valuables (including changing the person’s will to name the abuser as heir)
- It may be obtained by deception, coercion, misrepresentation, or theft
The term includes fraudulently obtaining or use of a power of attorney
- Attorneys and guardians) who are strangers to take over a vulnerable person’s life who will bill enormous fees for their services that rarely benefit the vulnerable person that results in the looting the estates of the vulnerable persons estate.
- Misusing a power of attorney
Typical rackets that target elders include
- Announcements of a “prize” that the elderly person has won but must pay money to claim
- Phony charities
- Investment fraud
Financial Abuse – A scam artist that deceives you in order to take your money, property or anything of value, you are a victim of financial fraud. Strangers, family members or people you know can commit financial fraud. This fact sheet talks about financial fraud by strangers.
- People behind financial fraud schemes are experts in deception, and they are good at coming up with new ways to trick unsuspecting victims
- Their materials and presentations are carefully designed and very professional.
- They are experts at manipulation.
- They do not care how their actions hurt you emotionally or financially.
Scam artists use telephones, letters and the Internet to reach you. They may even knock on your door. They often appear friendly and charming. They pretend to be offering you something that you need or want.
Some tips that will help to keep you from becoming a victim
Be sceptical. If a business deal or investment seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Do not pay large sums of money in advance. Honest businesses will not ask you for large amounts of money up front.
Take your time. Any honest business will let you have as much time as you need to think about whether you want to buy or invest your money. People who pressure you to act quickly may be trying to take your money before you have second thoughts. Take as much time as you need. Use this time to consult with others about the business and the offer.
Stay calm. Con artists often try to scare or excite their victim. You may be told that your investments are at risk or that you have to act quickly to take advantage of the special opportunity they are offering. They are trying to get you to agree to the deal so that they can take your money before you have time to think it over or to check with others.
Remember that business is business. Con artists often try to make friends with you to gain your trust. Be cautious if someone you do not know who is offering a business proposition seems anxious to discuss your personal life or seems overly friendly.
Check lots of sources before agreeing to the offer. Talk to friends, family members and a registered financial advisor. If you have access to the Internet, look on-line for information. Call the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints about the individual or the company. Check carefully before you agree to any financial investment. It is important to check several sources, as well as sources other than the company or person who wants you to buy – many frauds are actually backed up by false telephone call centres or false Internet sites.
Before spending money, talk to more than one company. Sometimes people come to your door and say your roof is leaking and needs to be replaced or your house needs repair. Do not assume what they tell you is true or that the price they are asking is fair. Get several opinions on whether the work needs to be done and how much it should cost. Call the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints about the individual or the company. Check carefully before you agree to any financial investment.
Beware of investments or opportunities that seem questionable or illegal. Scam artists often promise big profits if you do something improper, such as smuggling gemstones or money out of a country. The real purpose is to make you afraid to call the police when you find out that you have been a victim.
Check your credit rating once a year: You can order your credit report by telephone or by mail at no cost from a credit-reporting agency, such as TransUnion and Equifax. Purchases made by a con artist who has stolen your identity will show up in the report.
If you think you have been made a victim, take immediate action.
- Do not be embarrassed or ashamed. Fraud is a crime carried out by sophisticated scam artists who are experts in deception. It is not your fault. They are entirely to blame. You may be targeted again. You need to take immediate action to prevent further losses.
- Call your financial institution and credit card issuer so they can stop any further transactions – use the phone book to make sure that you are calling the right number.
- Tell your Internet provider if you think your Internet account has been compromised.
- Contact PhoneBusters at 1-888-495-8501 (toll-free). PhoneBusters is the central agency in Canada that collects information on fraud complaints. The information is disseminated to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
- Call the police.
Be aware that seniors who are made victims once are often targeted by scam artists again.
- Sometimes you will even receive a second offer from the same scam artist offering to help you get your lost money back. You will likely not get your money back, but some scam artists will try to take even more from you. They may sell your name to other con artists who will try to deceive you with new offers.
Warn your family and friends so they do not also become victims of the same fraud.
- Guardianship Abuse - is what happens when perpetrators use the guardianship system to loot a vulnerable persons estate while the neglect or abuse the person they should be protecting. This form of abuse and exploitation, carefully hidden from the public eye and disguised as a form of protection, is being purposely ignored by the criminal justice system and is destroying the lives of thousands of vulnerable citizens and the lives of their family members.
- Being forced into guardianship for ulterior motives of outright greed
- Once in guardianship a citizen faces civil death and has essentially has less rights than a prisoner on death row
- They are so powerless that they do not even have the right to be heard if they cry out for help and have no right to speak for themselves anymore
- Under guardianships vulnerable citizens can be and often are stripped of their civil rights, robbed of their property, abused, neglected and even hidden from or prevented from seeing their family and loved one
Healthcare Fraud and Abuse - Nursing home staff may be prone to elder abuse if they lack training, have too many responsibilities, are unsuited to care-giving, or work under poor conditions. Carried out by unethical doctors, nurses, hospital personnel, and other professional care providers, examples of healthcare fraud and abuse regarding elders include:
- Not providing healthcare, but charging for it
- Overcharging or double-billing for medical care or services
- Getting kickbacks for referrals to other providers or for prescribing certain drugs
- Overmedicating or under-medicating
- Not complying with prescriptions refills
- Withholding medication
- Recommending fraudulent remedies for illnesses or other medical conditions
- Medicaid fraud
Institutional Abuses or Neglect - Older adults who live in institutions can be vulnerable to abuse due to insufficient institutional resources and the difficulties encountered by health care workers. This abusive behaviour of the workers or the institute may be present due to:
Health care workers maybe over stressed due to:
- Be in charge of too many elderly people
- Have a different cultural background and lack the knowledge
- Have their elderly patient abuse them
- Have to follow institutional guidelines that they do not agree with
- Not trained properly to handle the entire needs of each of their patient
- Residents often have diseases or disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s, which rob them of their memory and ability to carry on usual activities
- Institutions do not have enough resources to properly train or provide support to their staff members, registered nurses, or health care workers
- Lack of knowledge
- Lack of training
- Lack of support, insufficient resourcing
- No policies or guidelines, may be the consequence common practices or processes that are part of running of a care institution or service
Neglect – the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder which constitutes more than half of all reported cases of elder abuse. It can be active (intentional) or passive (unintentional, based on factors such as ignorance or denial that an elderly charge needs as much care as he or she does).
- Abandonment or desertion
- Deliberately omitting to provide essential care
- Denial of social contacts
- Depriving a person of food, heat, clothing or comfort or essential medication, hearing aids, walkers, canes, wheelchairs
- Depriving a person of needed services to force certain kinds of actions, financial and otherwise.
- Failure to prevent physical harm
- Failure to provide a safe, warm and comfortable place to live
- Failure to provide personal hygiene
- Emaciated, malnourished or dehydrated
- Has open sores
- Inappropriately dressed
- The deprivation may be intentional (active neglect) or happen out of lack of knowledge or resources (passive neglect).
- Under-medicated or over-medicated
- Unkempt appearance or personal surroundings (i.e, soiled clothes or linens)
Signs of neglect in a senior’s living environment include:
- Home is dirty or in a state of disrepair
- Smell of urine or feces in the home
- Lack of required safety features in the home
Other possible indicators of neglect:
- The senior is left alone without supervision or assistance when needed
- Medical appointments are cancelled on a regular basis or senior does not show up for the scheduled appointment
Physical Abuse - This is one of the most common elder abuses. Here brute force is used against a helpless senior citizen to get them to do what the caregiver wants them to do. Inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior and is non-accidental use of force against an elderly person that results in physical pain, injury, or impairment.
- Bruises (especially any in the shape of hand or finger marks) in unexplainable places
- Burning, inappropriate physical and chemical restraints
- Clumps of missing hair and/or haemorrhaging beneath the scalp, which suggests hair pulling
- Deliberate exposure to severe weather
- False of forced imprisonment, confinement, restraints
- Giving excessive, improper or inappropriate medication
- Hitting, punching, slapping
- Pushing, shoving
Psychological/Emotional Abuse - the sole idea behind this is to cause emotional stress and pain to the elderly person by inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts, as well as people speaking to or treating elderly person(s) in ways that cause emotional pain or distress. It also diminishes the identity and self-worth of older people.
- Accusations, blaming, and general disrespect
- Attacking their self-esteem
- Coercing an older person into a particular action
- Constantly criticizing
- Controlling activities
- Denying privacy in institutions
- Frightening, threatening
- Humiliating, ridiculing, forcing older people to do degrading things
- Habitual blaming or scapegoating
- Infantilizing, treating them like a child
- Intimidation through shouting, swearing, yelling
- Non verbal forms
- Ignoring, silence or shunning
- Isolating an elder from family, friends or activities, refusing access to grandchildren
- Withholding affection for manipulative purposes
- Removal of decision-making power while the person is competent
- Terrorizing or menacing the elderly person
Rights Abuse - Denying the civil and constitutional rights of a person who is old, but not declared by court to be mentally incapacitated. This is the denial of an older person’s fundamental rights according to legislation, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights.
- Withholding information
- Denying privacy
- Denying religious worship
- Denying visitors
- Interfering with mail
- Restricting liberty
- Unwarranted confining to a hospital or institution
Sexual Abuse - is contact with an elderly person without the elder’s consent. Such contact can involve physical sex acts, but activities such as showing an elderly person pornographic material, forcing the person to watch sex acts, or forcing the elder to undress are also considered sexual elder abuse
- Being forced to commit degrading acts
- Unnecessary help with dressing/hygiene
- Forcing a person to take part in any sexual activity without his or her consent,
- Forcing them to participate in conversations of a sexual nature against their will
- Injuries around thighs and perineum
- Lack of personal privacy
- May also include situations where person is no longer able to give consent (dementia)
- Sexual intercourse
- Verbal or suggestive behaviour
How Does Guardianship Fraud and Abuse Happen?
First, usually an unsuspecting family member files for guardianship at the advice of an attorney or APS who convinced them this is the best way for them to help their loved in need or it could be family member or friend concerned that an elderly person’s assets are at risk who gets an attorney to help them file for guardianship. There are also cases were a professional guardian trolling for clients or a nursing home that may initiate the petition for guardianship.
Once a person is placed into involuntary guardianship they will lose all of their civil rights and essentially face civil death. They cannot vote, marry, contract, divorce, decide where they live, what medical care they can get, what drugs they can take or refuse to take and even if or when they will die. All of these decisions are assigned to a stranger in most cases who will run the person’s life.
Most importantly to the perpetrators of financial abuse, the person they will protect loses complete control of their money and property. The Guardian or the Conservator gains full control over every single dime of money that belongs to the incapacitated person and they don’t even have to tell the person that they are controlling their money or what they are doing with it.
This carte blanche handing over of an incapacitated person’s money to guardians appears from many of the stories we have heard to be a key component behind the motivation to seek out lucrative guardianship cases of elderly persons with assets. It also appears to be the primary reason why many family members and heirs are not be awarded the petition they originally filed for. After all the heirs and loved ones would most likely object to the fleecing of the estate that everyone know is to come.
What come next are lots and lots of bills from attorney and guardians racking up enormous fees all to be paid from their newly acquired wards estate without his or her knowledge. The professional guardians will never object to the attorney fees that are higher than a kite on a windy day. The Judges are routinely rubber stamping anything that comes across their desk. So why would anyone appoint a family member to be a guardian when it is so very easy to steal the estate?
What is happening to the family members is equally damaging. Innocent and unsuspecting family members are accused of anything under the sun from being thieves to greedy kids to elder abusers to criminal all to keep them at bay and prevent the court from appointing them as the guardian. Hundreds of family members suffer for years from the litigation abuse in this system and from the character assassination and outright defamation, slander and liable that flies in the face of justice.
The trick is that the family member “has no standing” or that is what the Court will say so they must endure the horrific abuse that destroys their lives, their family lives and their lifelong friendships. Most friends cannot believe the courts are doing this and believe that the family member did something wrong. While grandma may be in a nursing home suffering from dementia and unaware of what is happening to her estate her children are being lynched by the Court.
Why doesn’t the family member speak up more is a question that is asked. Well many do but the guardians have the most powerful weapon to use to silence the family members and it is a fact that many who speak up about the silent crime are ostracized by the court and denied the right to even visit their own loved ones.
It is this fear and abuse that silences the voices of many who would fight if they could until it is too late and their loved one is gone. By that time the family member is so damaged and torn up by the legal abuse and guardianship abuse that they don’t even have the energy to fight back or speak out. Many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and the after effects of the abuse and many can barely speak of the harm personally done to them and their loved ones. Others live a silent life filled with a silent killing rage and suffer physical and emotionally from the permanent scars.