This week on the Lardiere McNair blog, we cover ground we’ve covered before, but that we feel like we need to discuss more. We take our job fighting for our clients seriously, and one of those fights is against complacency. We feel like we need to bring this back around periodically so that the next time you’re at your grandmother’s house, maybe you’ll ask if you can see her check register – just to double-check her math, of course. When you mow the lawn for the couple down the street, ask them when the last time was they saw their kids. When you have elderly clients or customers, ask them who they brought with them to the appointment. These are the sorts of questions that can tease out problems in those people’s lives that make them vulnerable to people who are taking a share of the $2.9 Billion in fraud of vulnerable elderly Americans every year.
Under section 5101.61 of the Ohio Revised Code, there are several categories of workers who often work with the elderly and who are required, if they suspect abuse or exploitation of the elderly, to report that suspicion to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. The statute also allows other people – regular people, neighbors, family members, friends – to make similar reports. These reports could be the difference between a person maintaining a comfortable retirement and sinking into financial ruin or worse.
According to the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, you can look for these signs, among others, if you suspect there is elder abuse going on with a loved one:
- Unpaid bills, or notices for eviction or shutoff of utilities;
- Withdrawals that the elder didn’t know about or can’t fully explain;
- Diversion of bills, statements, or canceled checks;
- Changes to the elder’s estate planning documents or powers of attorney;
- Unusual banking activity, especially large withdrawals or unusual transfers; and
- Care of an elder not aligning with their wealth (for example, little or no care for an elder of significant means).
For a more complete list of warning signs, profiles of perpetrators and potential victims, and additional reading on the topic generally, you can find information on the NCPEA’s website, preventelderabuse.org, and on the website of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, at http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Individuals-and-Families/Seniors/Elder-Abuse, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living at https://aoa.acl.gov/aoa_programs/elder_rights/ea_prevention/whatIsEA.aspx#warning.
Also, if you suspect that yourself or a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, we’d love to take up that fight for you.
Ben Worsowicz is an Associate at Lardiere McNair, LLC. To read more about our firm, please visit www.lawyerscolumbusohio.com.
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