The Con Game, A Failure of Trust is the story of financial mishandling, elder abuse, and family dysfunction at the expense of an elderly matriarch. The author, T.S. Laham, weaves a factual story among alarming statistics about elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. The book offers resources, definitions, and explanations surrounding guardianships, conservatorships, and other legal issues that are applicable to families and professionals alike.
Surprising Facts about Elder Abuse
While the actual numbers of victims of elder abuse are unknown, the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) report the following:
- 1 to 2 million Americans age 65+ have been mistreated by someone in a trust relationship with them.
- 1 in 14 incidents of elder abuse occurring in a home setting are ever reported to authorities.
- 1 in 25 cases of financial exploitation of the elderly are reported to authorities.
- 90% of elder abuse and neglect were committed by known perpetrators, mostly spouses and adult children.
These statistics are difficult to swallow, and what’s worse, due to the lack of uniformity in reporting and recording incidents of abuse and neglect, they may be grossly underestimated. Additionally, each state has it’s own definition of what constitutes elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation making it difficult for data to be accurately reflected.
It Won’t Happen to My Loved One
Don’t be so sure. The elderly victim featured in the story had several intelligent, involved, and well-intentioned family members in her life. Unfortunately, one of those family member’s actions eventually drained her assets and arguably negatively affected her health and well-being by isolating her from the rest of the family, not providing appropriate medical care and manipulating her personal documents, trusts, and will.
According to the author, the typical elderly victim has the following characteristics:
- Unmarried or widowed white female age 75+
- Shared living arrangement with family or relative
- Dependent on a caregiver
- Cognitively impaired
- Socially isolated
- Poor health
- Unable (or unwilling) to report abuse
The real shock in this story comes in the revelation that because of the number of professionals who became involved in the family struggle and eventual court-ordered “solution”, the elderly victim’s estate was paying an estimated $250,000 per year on her care and professional fees. The author presents additional stories and cases of court-appointed professionals who have committed fiduciary abuse and fraud.
Tools and Resources to prevent and report Elder Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation
T.S. Laham does an excellent job at the conclusion of her story, providing suggestions for planning ahead, making sure documents are in place, and utilizing the appropriate professional resources to ensure that an elderly loved one and their estate are protected.
A few of the suggestions include the following:
- Have legal documents, (Will and Power of Attorney) in place well in advance of a crisis or cognitive decline.
- Use a professional Daily Money Manager if you need help with daily financial needs.
- Consult with an Estate Planning or Elder Law Attorney.
I recommend T.S. Laham’s book The Con Game, A Failure of Trust to families, caregivers and elder care professionals as a resourceful guide in addressing the journey of elder care and ensuring the safety of those we care about. The book can be purchased on Amazon.