A new study from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services puts a price tag on a specific form of elder abuse. The statewide study says the financial exploitation of older and vulnerable adults results in at least $1.5 billion in annual costs associated with stolen cash and property, benefits that are paid to the victims and the price of investigating the crimes.
Art Mason, director of the Elder Abuse Prevention program at Lifespan, says just 5 percent of the victims report these crimes.
"Maybe they're the parent of the perpetrator who has a drug problem or is thinking they're going to get an early inheritance,” Mason said. “Well, if you're a parent and your adult child is doing this, or your grandchild is doing it, there's a lot of self-blaming, 'Is it my fault? Did I not raise them well enough?' "
Mason points out that when an elderly person’s cash or property is stolen, they are often not the only victims.
"If their private monies are taken, then they lose their home. They end up moving into a facility; very often that's being paid for by public funds."
Lifespan is airing television ads encouraging victims of elder financial abuse to break their silence and confide in at least one trusted person.