Kupuna Caregiver: Financial abuse by caregivers

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This morning we take a look at an important issue regarding caregivers, and those who use their power to financially abuse our seniors. And you might be surprised at who’s taking advantage of our Kupuna.

“It’s one of those abuses that you really don’t have a full picture of because it’s often times not being reported,” says Scott Spallina, Honolulu Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, Elder Abuse Justice Unit.

According to Spallina, caregiver abuse is prevalent even in care homes.

“It’s incredible to believe, but we’ve had reports of staffs at these care facilities and nursing homes basically convincing a patient that they can provide better care than this care facility. You’re spending tens of thousands of dollars at this facility and they’ll say come with me, and you can be like our own grandmother and we’ll take care of you like family. These people just want your money but they’ll take you in like family. It’s all about isolation, you want to isolate the victim to keep them away from the resources they really need and making them dependent on you,” says Spallina.

So how do you combat this type of scam?

“Visit often. I cannot express that enough, visit your parents or grandparents often. Because the more times you visit, the more times you can see the warning signs. The more time you visit, the staff will realize this person is being watched out for so the more they’re hands off that person,” says Spallina.

And you may be surprised at who’s involved in the biggest scam.

“Adult children of parents are one of the number one perpetrators of financial abuse of seniors. One thing that we’re seeing with adult children is they often justify taking money from mom and dad. Their justifications might be, oh well I’m going to get it when they die anyways. Or this is just a loan, so when I get my job back I’ll go ahead and repay them. But I’m not going to bother them by telling them this. And often times, parents would never believe their own child would take advantage of them. And because of that, you have one sister not talking to one brother. And that’s sad because that’s not the legacy the parents wanted to leave, is a broken family. But in my job, I see broken families everyday,” says Spallina.

So what can parents do to prevent this?

“Get everything in writing, that’s why we have estate planners, that’s why we have trusts, that’s why we have wills. Have the open conversation with the family to know where the assets are going to be going before they pass,” says Spallina.

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