Saturday, April 13, 2013

Raiding the Estate ~ Stop Elder Abuse

Here is a most touching photo.  Two people growing old together.
The ideal situation.  Living the last days in love.

This post is quite different from my usual happy cottage decorating posts,
so be prepared for a dose of unfortunate reality.  I am giving you fair warning so
stop reading now if you don't want to hear anything unpleasant.

Let me begin by stating that there are a few things in life I cannot and
will not tolerate and they are :

Abusing or neglecting children, animals and the elderly.
Neglect or abuse may be physical or in many elder abuse situations,
the abuse is financial.  This is the case I will be discussing today.

Yesterday I was contacted by a friend of mine who knows that I have been doing
research for a book about the problem of financial fraud of elderly persons. I am
changing the names here to protect those involved,  so I will call the victims
"John", his mother "Jane" and the elderly uncle will be "Uncle Fred".

Uncle Fred lived alone in another state.  John went to visit his great uncle
while attending a business conference nearby.  Although John knew his
 uncle to be an eccentric and a bit reclusive, he was shocked by what he
saw.  His uncle was unkempt and living in an unsanitary house.  Fred's
behavior was quite distressing and the nephew became very concerned.
Why was his uncle living in such horrible conditions?  What had changed
 since his last visit to his uncle not long ago?

When John returned to his hotel he called his mother Jane to let her
know of his concerns.  Jane lives in another state as well, but agreed
to visit the uncle right away to see what assistance she could
provide to their elderly relative.

Source: via Lynne on Pinterest

John returned home somewhat relieved knowing his mother would soon be
on her way to visit Fred.  Jane proceeded to arrange for a flight to visit her uncle
 as soon as possible,  but before she even had a chance to get to the airport,
she received a phone call from her uncle's neighbor informing her that that Fred
had died.  Here is where the story takes yet another sorry turn.

Fred always lived a modest lifestyle.  He was financially successful and
financially prudent.  His niece Jane was his only living relative and heir to
his entire estate.  However, when Jane was informed of her uncle's passing
she was also informed by the neighbor that there was no need for her to
fly down and that the "kindly" neighbors had taken care of everything.

Yes indeed they had taken care of everything!  Jane learned that
the neighbors had been "looking" after Fred.  Apparently for some time,
the husband would take Fred to the grocery store and help with other
errands while the wife "cleaned" the house.  They gained Fred's confidence
and encouraged his reclusive tendencies.  They gained his complete trust
and according to other neighbors, turned Fred against everyone except
themselves. This is a common tactic often used by abusers.
They then took Fred to an attorney and encouraged him to change
 his will naming them as his only heirs and completely remove
 Jane as his heir.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident.  As our elderly population grows,
there is an increased potential for this type of financial fraud.  There are many
cases of elder financial abuse that go unnoticed and unreported.  I hope that by
sharing the story of "Uncle Fred",  I may be bringing an awareness of the
potential for this type of crime.

I alone can do little to prevent this type of abuse, but knowledge is a
powerful tool.  I hope and pray that all kinds of abuse and neglect of the
elderly be it physical, emotional or financial be stopped.  While this
may seem like a large task, many hands always lessen a burden.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, here are
some resources to check out:

Stop Fraud
National Center on Elder Abuse

"Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear
the young or to be deserted by them, for the test of a
civilization is the way it cares for it's helpless members"
~Pearl S. Buck

To spread this message I am joining ~

Seasonal Sundays
Sunny Simple Sundays

God's Blessings,

Susan and Bentley


  1. Dear Susan,

    Yes it is a huge problem for our elderly.. My father was abused by a family member. They drained his bank accounts and opened cc accounts to the tune of $134,000.00. My daughter called me to inform something was not right. I lived 6 hours away but went to see him every 4 weeks to give this family member a break, my father is in poor health. To make a long story short I moved him out brought him to live with me. He would not press charges against this person so at 78 he had to claim bankruptcy.. 5 years later he is doing ok I love him living with us:) We have made many fantastic memories. Its very sad for me to know that the last part of my fathers life he has to live very frugal when he should not be in this situation. It is a HUGE problem for our elderly. From what I learned its usually a family member that does the damage:( Thank you for sharing this... yes its unpleasant but sometimes truth is..


  2. How positively horrifying! I will be forwarding this to my 74-year-old parents. When I get back to the States in a few months, this will be topic of discussion with them AND my siblings.

    Thank you, Susan, for the wake-up call. It really could happen to anyone... anyone who is unaware.

    Happy weekend,

  3. This happened to someone dear I know too - nearly exactly.....and when I managed a bank for years found out the saddest of financial schemes....only much too late.

    I think this is an important topic and very glad you care enough to brootch it for us all.

    Thank you, Susan.

  4. As a couple with no children..i think about this for when my husband and I get older. I hope we still have the mental capacity years from now to take care of each other. I can remember people frequently trying to out smart both my 91 yr old grandfathers who were still in there homes, they were still able to know who was trying to pull wool over their eyes. My maternal grandfather use to tell questionable callers "you come to my tupperwear party and I will by your product" they always never bothered him again!

  5. You are so right to bring this to everyone's attention. It happens all too often.

    - The Tablescaper

  6. Hello Susan. Oh, I so totally agree with your post today. I cannot STAND abuse of children or elderly. I hope, with all my heart, your post and your book will shed lots of light on this horrendous misuse of power in our society. Susan

  7. I have made my will and when I get too old to be logical anymore I will give it to someone to look after it for me most likely my son, but I expect my children to look after me if I develop some mental problem as I get older.
    My parents years ago collected my grandmother from a flat she was living in and she lived with us for the rest of her life, she lived till 95 so it was a long and happy time or it was for me, I have many happy memories of her as I was growing up. Gran had no money only her pension but was well looked after by her children, she usually spent 9month with us, she had a granny flat out the back so she was independent, the rest of the time she spent in other homes of her children so she got to see everyone in a year. She had a lot of children so it worked well I only have two that may not work so well. I think we all should care more for our older population so they can't be used by people who see them are a easy target.

  8. That is good you are alerting us to this problem, and Pearl Buck's words are wise. If a person seems competent to an attorney they can and do change wills, even when coercion is involved. Very sad.

  9. A man in the town where I work was recently brought to trial under very similar circumstances, thankfully he was found guilty! It's amazing how many money-grubbing disgusting people there are who think nothing of picking the elderly clean! Thank you Susan!

  10. Susan:
    Thank you so much for the time you are spending studying and writing about this. I think this type of thing will only get worse as our culture is!

  11. I can totally relate. When I was helping my folks get their trust done, someone must monitor what is filed with the county because someone called saying they needed to come over and have my mom sign something. I am sure they monitored what was filed with the country recorder. We have finished it all and were done with the attorney. Fortunately I was there and asked for their info which they refused to give me. I was going to call the police. If I had not been there who knows what they might have got my mom to do as she had a brain tumor and was already confused a lot of the time.

  12. Thank you Susan. It really bothers me that people can be so mean and uncaring. I'm in my 70's and my son wants me to move by him, but I still want to stay in my home as long as I can. My neighbors are wonderful and we check on each other as there are a few older families.
    Have a wonderful Sunday and God Bless you.

  13. The elderly are so vulnerable poor darlings.
    It is shameful that people can take advantage of them at this fragile stage of life, stripping their dignity as well as everything they own.
    I've thought for a long time the current system isn't really working for everyone.
    I think it was better in the old days where Grandad and/or Grandma lived with us instead of fending for themselves or going into a home. The care isn't always as caring as we would like - bullying happens to the elderly too.
    Obviously it's a world wide problem.
    Shane ♥ (in New Zealand)

  14. This is such an important message, Susan. I feel we are really letting our elderly population down. It is so upsetting to hear stories like this where unscrupulous people are taking advantage of a vulnerable person. thanks so much for the reminder. xo Laura

  15. Susan, What a very important message you have shared here today. It is so so sad and so so true that this happens all the time. Mr. V's grandfather was the subject of elder abuse. He was in a nursing home and his nurse did the same thing. When Papa passed, his entire estate was left to the nurse. We found out later that this nurse "borrowed" money from papa and had him buy her a new car. We we shocked when we found out.
    This happens far too often in our Country and yours. Thank you so much for sharing this story and making all of us aware once again. Elderly people are to be cherished and they are here for us to learn from them and from their rich history.
    Blessings to you and Bentley.

  16. We could all be in that situation some day and thank you for sharpening our awareness on the subject..Great pictures..meaningful..well written..I'll be back..

  17. PS..Bently is a cutie..Super name..

  18. The same thing happened to my father-in-law. His daughter took all his money and when he came to live with us, he asked us where all his statements were. It took four years of agony in court, the court threatening to arrest her and much sadness to get him back his money, but it tore everyone apart. Thank goodness, his last few years were happy. We are so grateful he lived with us. We never regretted it. He was a nice gentle man.

  19. Thank you so much for bringing awareness to this unspoken abuse and neglect. I can't believe people are this heartless but it is a reality. We must pay attention to out elders too.

  20. Good Afternoon Susan, This is such an important message you are spreading, because the old are very vulnerable. My mother is 83 years old this year and very independent. I have to be very careful not to take this independence away, but I am grateful that she always rings me if she is concerned about anything, because she knows both George and I have her best interests at heart.
    We are hoping that when she is ready she will come and live with us, so that we can care for her in her twilight years.
    Thank you so much for highlighting this abuse.
    Best Wishes

  21. I totally agree with you and it scares me to death with my Mother alone in Florida. She's (83) well and still driving and seems to be very sharp, but I still fear for her. I can't move to Florida due to work here in Atlanta and she won't move here since she is still very active in everything at home. I have called her every night since Dad passed 8 yrs. ago so she'll have someone to say goodnight to - but still. . . . one fall could so easily change our whole lives!!

  22. while the neighbors were totally wrong and I wish there is something that could be done.
    Why did the family not know the conditions that he was living in? The niece should have been more involved and could have preempted this.I agree we can not live near our loved ones and life gets in the way but a once every 2-3 month visit could have shown some of the issues.
    just my thoughts

  23. Susan, this is a helpful post for many. Elderly fraud is a growing concern for many. It happened to my uncle's widow. She had no children, but had caregivers who had moved in with her. Over the years, they cleaned out her bank accounts. It left her destitute.

  24. I have seen this kind of thing happen so many times. It's great that you are highlighting this terrible abuse of the elderly. Thank you!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  25. I am so with you on this subject. When I was a girl, Mom and Dad took me along to visit my Great Aunt Mary (my namesake) in Penna (from VA where we lived). Aunt Mary had married Will late, and he had 2 children by a previous marriage. Will died, leaving my sweet tiny little Aunt Mary with "lifetime rights to the house." Well, when she got down and couldn't live alone there anymore, these two children took her to this "place" to live out her days. When we arrived, we found my precious Aunt Mary alone in a tiny room, on a cot, in a basement with no windows she could see out of. I was HORRIFIED!!!!! And I have never forgotten it nor gotten over it. Dad begged my Mom to let him move Aunt Mary to our house but my Mom said with her severe arthritis, she just could not take care of Aunt Mary. And so Aunt Mary stayed in the basement, and about a year later we got word she had died. SCREAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM on my part, still today when I'm 60. I will NEVER get over it. I determined in my mind that my parents would live with me when they could no longer live alone and, tho it nearly killed me, I took care of them singlehandedly until they each died in a nice in-law suite, clean, loved, fed, with loads of windows looking over our beautiful back yard. So ... don't even get me started. Sorry for venting. This post just really hit a nerve, and I know you understand what I'm talking about! Mary

  26. Many of us have seen these kind of situations where an older person is coerced into making decisions that leave family members wondering how it happened. Hopefully, most of us will have made those decisions for ourselves while we can and have others know what they are. I do think that family members have a responsibility to know what is going on so the kind of incident you relate does not occur.

  27. It is horrifying and appalling what people can do to children, animals and th elderly. Thank you for posting this and bringing awareness. When you publish your book, please let us know. You are doing good work. XO, pinky

  28. So very sad, thanks so much for sharing sweet friend!

  29. Thank you for sharing this important information with us, Susan. It is a very sad situation for the elderly to be so taken advantage of. I'm thankful that you have posted about this abuse in order to make everyone aware. May you have a wonderful week.

  30. Susan, thanks for sharing this. My Mom is 82 and has some assets and I worry about her, but so far she has been really on top of everything and is very competent to take care of things. She and I discuss it all the time so I know she is OK, but so many aren't. This is just so sad and more prosecutions should be made.


  31. This is so very sad but it's even worse when it's family.

    I know a family of two brothers where one has so emotionally bullied & manipulated the entire family the other has just given up on his relationship with their mother. She is not in physical danger but the one brother has forever ruined a relationship that the other brother cherished very much. The innocent brother doesn't care about inheritance, he just wants to be able to spend some peaceful time with his mother in her last days. He stays away because his presence causes such turmoil with the other brother, their mother gets no peace while he's there. It's all very sad - sad is not a strong enough word I guess, it's really criminal. There really is no peaceful solution.

    I followed a link from the Savvy Southern Style blog & ended up browsing on yours.


Oliver and I LOVE and read every comment.


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