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Elder abuse more likely to involve family members than strangers

Older adults face many difficulties that younger people do not. For some, the physical and mental decline that can come with old age may make it difficult to enjoy activities that they did previously. For other adults, those declines can be dangerous to their well-being. Older people in Colorado and across the country are often targeted by scammers hoping to make money off of those who may not fully understand how best to protect themselves. However, a recent study found that financial elder abuse is more likely to be perpetrated by people that a senior citizen knows, including members of the senior's own family.

The study examined almost 2000 calls to the National Center on Elder Abuse. It found that close to half of the calls reported instances of elder abuse, and over half of those were reports of financial abuse. This was the most common category of abuse perpetrated on older people. In 61.8% of abuse cases involving a family member, the alleged offense was financial abuse. Nearly a third of abuse cases perpetrated by a family member involved abuse of more than one type.

The researchers were not surprised that financial abuse was the most commonly reported offense, but they did not expect that family members were the most frequent perpetrator of any kind of abuse, except for sexual abuse or neglect. Experts say elder financial abuse is often an unreported crime. Experts hope that the study will show how important it is to give seniors resources for identifying and reporting financial abuse.

No matter who might be taking advantage of an older person, this study shows how important it is that people have a comprehensive care plan in place. It may be the best way to prevent elder abuse of all kinds and to ensure that a person's wishes and best interests are honored. Those here in Colorado who are unsure of where to turn for answers regarding care planning may want to consult an experienced elder law attorney.

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