Local attorney raises awareness about financial exploitation  

RICHMOND – The Law Office of Scott E. Collins commemorated World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15 by raising awareness about financial abuse and exploitation toward elders in the community.

“Elder financial exploitation is a growing issue and the most common form of elder abuse,” said Collins. “Our seniors are often living on fixed incomes and become targets for this type of abuse by strangers, friends and family.”

Older adults in rural areas like Madison and surrounding counties may be at higher risk, but have less access to resources, according to the National Center on Law and Elder Rights. Older adults may have fewer transportation options, often relying on others to take them places or having limited public transportation. Many do not have internet access, proving yet another communication barrier.

“A power of attorney is a critical planning tool in preventing elder financial exploitation,” said Collins. “However, it must be carefully drafted to create accountability, and limit the ability of the agent using a power of attorney to financially exploit the grantor.”

An attorney focusing exclusively on elder law, like Collins, can provide guidance to older adults to protect their assets, like trust and estate planning, special needs planning, securing guardianship, last wills and testaments, and estate probate, among others.

Elder abuse affects older people across all socioeconomic groups, cultures, and races, and includes physical, sexual, financial and emotional or psychological abuse (including verbal abuse and threats).

Every year an estimated 1 in 10 older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Elder abuse is significantly under-reported, in part because so many communities lack the social supports that would make it easier for those who experience abuse to report it. More than $36 billion is estimated to be lost annually through exploitation while approximately 7,700 cases of abuse are investigated in Kentucky each year. Research suggests that as few as 1 in 14 cases of elder abuse come to the attention of authorities.

It can occur anywhere when they are disconnected from social supports, like in their own home, in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other institutional settings, like hospitals. Women and people over 80 are more likely to experience abuse. Factors such as dementia or poor physical health can increase their isolation, putting them at greater risk of experiencing abuse or neglect.

The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN) launched the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on June 15, 2006 to unite communities around the world in raising awareness about elder abuse. WEAAD serves as a call-to-action for our communities to raise awareness about abuse, neglect, and exploitation of elders, and reaffirm our country’s commitment to the principle of justice for all.

The Law Office of Scott E. Collins in Richmond, Kentucky, focuses exclusively on Elder Law Guidance. Collins works with families who need long term care and offers a free consultation. Visit www.elderlawguidance.com or call 859.684.5333 for more information.

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