New Legislation to Prevent Elder Abuse on the Horizon

The Maine elder abuse lawyers of Hardy, Wolf & Downing have made the fight against elder exploitation and abuse a top priority at their offices. Now, talk of additional legislation to protect seniors has made this team hopeful that seniors will have more financial protection from federal and state government.

A chair on the Senate’s Special Committee on Aging and Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee told Financial Advisor that she is looking into introducing legislation to prevent senior exploitation or financial abuse.

A “growing epidemic”

Susan Collins (R-Maine) is considering legislation to combat what she calls a “growing epidemic” of seniors getting taken advantage of financially. Although she has not yet drafted a bill, her committee was scheduled to meet February 4 to hold a hearing on the matter. Although much elder abuse prevention is currently done at the state level, Collins has stated it will take cooperation between federal, state and local agencies to effectively combat senior fraud and exploitation.

Collins also recently joined with members of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee to revise a package of federal grants supporting senior programs at the state level. One of the primary changes to the 50-year-old package is provision of stiffer financial protections for seniors. Under the proposed law, states will be required to report cases of elder abuse to the federal government on a more consistent basis. Legal funding would also be allowed through the federal grants, to help protect some of the most vulnerable members of the population.

Types of elder financial abuse

Elder financial abuse can occur in many different ways, from taking money or property from an elderly individual to using scams or deception to obtain money from a senior. Perpetrators may be predatory individuals with an intent to take money from the senior, but are often family members that try to take money from parents, siblings or grandparents. According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, people over the age of 50 control 70 percent of the wealth in the U.S., which may explain in part why the elderly are often the victims of financial exploitation.

Elderly individuals may also be vulnerable to this type of abuse because they often have mental or physical disabilities that make them easy prey. Disabilities may also make it more difficult for them to go after people that take advantage of them financially. While a senior fraud lawsuit may be an option for seniors that are taken advantage of, many may not realize there is legal recourse available to them. In addition, seniors tend to have more predictable habits, such as monthly checks that they take to the bank at the same time each month, which makes it easy for predators to target them.

Sadly, financial abuse is just one way elders are mistreated today. Some face physical abuse and neglect, often from the very people they trust for care. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) estimates that seniors that face even moderate physical abuse increase their risk of death by 300 percent. Medical costs related to elder abuse are estimated to increase national healthcare costs by $5.3 billion, while financial exploitation of the elderly was estimated to be around $2.9 billion in 2009.

Legal help from financial elder abuse lawyers in Maine

At Hardy, Wolf & Downing, our elder abuse attorneys understand all too well how common elder abuse can be. We represent victims and their families, helping them pursue the legal recourse they are entitled to. While it is important to bring perpetrators to justice, it is also important to help those victims regain their financial losses, to ensure they can afford the care they need throughout the rest of their lives.

If you or a family member is a victim of elder abuse of any kind, you have grounds for pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Contact Hardy, Wolf & Downing today at 1-800-INJURED for a free evaluation of your case and to weigh your legal options.