Financial Exploitation of the Elderly
Elder abuse is a growing concern across the U.S., and the type of mistreatment the elderly receive is often financial. Caretakers, some who have been given financial responsibility for the individual and some who have not, are in a position to take advantage of their patient.
Considering that many people over the age of 60 live on tight incomes, being taken advantage of can put them at significant financial risk of not being able to support themselves. A caregiver has the ability to ruin their patient’s finances and credit without the patient knowing, being mentally capable of understanding the situation, or being physically or mentally able to seek help. It is an egregious abuse of power.
Oklahoma Statute, Chapter 21, Section 843.1, prohibits any person from financially neglecting, abusing, or exploiting anyone under their care.
A defendant charged with financially exploiting or abusing an elderly patient will be charged with a felony and faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Types of Financial Exploitation: Theft, Embezzlement, Fraud, Abuse
Caretakers might steal from their patients by taking cash, withdrawing money from the patient’s accounts, or by taking property.
Caretakers can also embezzle from their patients. Embezzlement is different from theft because embezzlers were given access and control over the money or property. They were entrusted with the money or property in order to care for the patient. For instance, the caregiver may have had access to the patient’s checking account to purchase groceries and pay the utilities. Instead, the caregiver withdrew money for themselves.
Caregivers can also use deception, force, or intimidation to steal from the elderly. They may use false promises to convince the patient to give them money or access to their finances. For example, a caretaker may convince an elderly patient that they need a loan to make ends meet.
They may also force the issue through violence or instilling fear in the patient.
If a patient suffers from dementia or other mental conditions, they may not be able to realize what the caregiver is doing. If the patient is not communicative, it can be difficult to let someone else know what they suspect or know is going on. Additionally, many elderly have little contact with other individuals or the public, so they may not be sure of where to turn if something is amiss.
Contact Us Today For Help
If you believe a loved one is being financially abused, contact Brown & Gould, PLLC right away at 405-235-4500.