Deciding that a parent, or other elderly loved ones, needs the type of treatment and supervision that is only available in a nursing home or other long-term care (LTC) facility. Along with the emotional stress that accompanies this decision, you may also have legitimate concerns about the care your parent will receive at a nursing home. Those fears may be intensified when you hear stories like the recent story about a caregiver kidnapping a patient in Tucson, Arizona. Unfortunately, the story is not as unique as you might think.
According to news reports, a Pima County Grand Jury indicted Christy A. Randolph on kidnapping, theft, and vulnerable adult abuse charges based on allegations made regarding a potentially missing person. On July 20, 2017, the Tucson Police Department responded to a report of a 68-year-old missing person from an assisted living facility in Tucson. Documents filed in the case indicate that the victim was last seen leaving for church the previous evening. Naturally, authorities were concerned as the victim is a vulnerable adult and requires assistance with daily tasks. Randolph is alleged to have moved the victim to Florida without permission after stealing over $10,000 from him while working as his caregiver.
Detectives from the Tucson Police Department’s Vulnerable Adult Abuse and Mental Health Support Team began investigating the disappearance and issued a Silver Alert. The Tucson Police Department, the Arizona Department of Economic Security Adult Protective Services, the Pima County Attorney’s Office, and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office worked together to locate the victim and obtain a nationwide arrest warrant for Randolph. One week later, the U.S. Marshals Service District of Arizona arrested Randolph on a felony warrant in Deltona, Florida. Fortunately, the victim was also found unharmed at the time and was eventually returned to Tucson.
Elder Abuse by Caregivers
Sadly, this story is not a rare occurrence. In fact, financial exploitation of the elderly happens every day, all across the country. Furthermore, it is frequently a caregiver who perpetrates the financial abuse. Although exact figures relating to elder abuse are difficult to compile, experts believe that an older American is the victim of financial exploitation more than five million times every year in the United States. Because victims of elder abuse are often embarrassed, or remain dependent on the abuser, experts also believe that for every one instance of elder abuse that is reported, at least 14 go unreported in the U.S. What may be the most troubling statistic of all, however, is that three out of every four perpetrators of elder abuse are family member caretakers. When a family member is the perpetrator, two out of three times it is an adult child or spouse of an adult child.
How Can You Prevent Financial Exploitation of a Senior?
Planning ahead and vigilance are the best ways to prevent an older loved one from becoming the victim of elder financial abuse. Once a senior succumbs to dementia, he/she becomes vulnerable and, therefore, an easy victim. If you wait until you become suspicious of a caregiver, however, it may be too late to completely prevent abuse. Instead, you need to put safeguards in place before you reach that point. Incapacity planning can help you do just that. By using estate planning tools such as a durable power of attorney or a revocable living trust you can already be in a position to monitor and protect your loved one’s assets if incapacity strikes as a result of dementia or any other cause. In addition, it is imperative to watch for any of the signs of abuse and to act on any suspicions you may have. Often, an elderly victim cannot, or will not, speak out which makes it even more important to act swiftly if you become concerned that financial abuse, or any other type of elder abuse, is occurring.
Contact Phoenix Elder Law Lawyers
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder abuse and neglect, contact the experienced elder law lawyers at Morris Hall PLLC by calling 888-222-1328 to schedule your appointment today.