Two events in the news this week highlight the situation.
From Mickey Rooney to Maple Grove, we are reminded that elder financial exploitation has no boundaries. We remember Rooney, who died this week, not only for his films but for his courageous testimony before the U.S. Senate in March 2011. His riveting statement revealed his victimization by a stepson and stepdaughter, the millions of dollars taken and the emotional toll he experienced.
National statistics on the billions of dollars elders lose to financial crimes each year are staggering and growing. Here in Minnesota, County Adult Protective Services received 5,546 reports of financial exploitation in 2013, up from 3,900 in 2011 and 4,800 in 2012. And these do not take into account cases that were reported directly to law enforcement as thefts.
Financial exploitation is measured in dollars and costly consequences. Beyond the dollars, these crimes leave victims with depression, deterioration of physical health, loss of independence and a shortened life span. The private tragedies yield significant public costs in medical care and housing. When the city administrator of Maple Grove dismisses a City Council member’s conviction in a six-figure case of financial exploitation as a “family matter” (“Maple Grove official gets workhouse for exploiting dad,” April 8), this too-common misconception must be challenged. “Who gets Grandma’s pink sugar bowl?” is a family matter. Intentional financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult is a crime.
Iris C. Freeman, Minneapolis
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