Warning! Spoiler Alerts Below!
I work as a nurse discharge planner in a local hospital, alongside social workers and physicians. I can tell you, the movie “I Care A Lot” is a real kind of scary about which very few people know.
The show is about a grifter of the legal kind…sort of. She uses government money and resources to take over care of the elderly when they’ve become too incapacitated to care for themselves. However, she cherry-picks people who have a large estate. She then “pays herself” by selling off her elderly clients’ belongings, liquidating assets, and then “managing” the clients’ funds for their care.
This grifter will even go to lengths to conjure up fake cognitive impairment or early-onset dementia for her potential “clients.” She collaborates with a primary care physician and uses emergency hearings in family court to take over the care of the wealthy elderly.
Some people may think, “Oh, that can’t happen. That’s not real.”
I beg to differ; it can be very real, just as elderly financial abuse is very real.
This movie goes way over the top in the financial abuse from one professional guardian and how she scams the courts and the abused elderly out of their money and assets. I mean, the Russian Mafia gets involved, and many people die. That typically doesn’t happen in elderly financial abuse.
In reality, a legal guardian has strict boundaries guided by the courts on what they can and cannot do. Guardians must agree to the courts’ obligations and have restrictions on how they get paid. The question is, although regulations are in place, is it possible for a guardian or power of attorney to take advantage financially of the person for which they’re caring?
I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know the legal obligations or ramifications of this scenario. However, I’ve seen plenty of people “caring” for an elderly person take undue financial advantage, even if that elderly person was not legally under the care of the abuser.
I’ve seen daughters and sons of the elderly who have Power of Attorney who’s “paid themselves” for their services.
Many of these adult children consider this money their inheritance. They will go to great lengths to personally retain that money, even if it means the elderly adult goes without adequate care.
Even if Adult and Protective Services (APS) gets involved, the investigation is a slow and tedious process.
According to the National Council on Aging:
Approximately 1 in 10 Americans aged 60+ have experienced some form of elder abuse. Some estimates range as high as 5 million elders who are abused each year. One study estimated that only 1 in 14 cases of abuse are reported to authorities.
In almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two-thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.
Elders who have been abused have a 300% higher risk of death when compared to those who have not been mistreated. While likely under-reported, estimates of elder financial abuse and fraud costs to older Americans range from $2.9 billionto $36.5 billion annually. Yet, financial exploitation is self-reported at rates higher than emotional, physical, and sexual abuse or neglect. (source)
Imagine your narcissistic sibling taking care of your parents. They decide to pay themselves for their trouble, gaslighting parents for money, using vehicles, or even coercing them to move or sell assets. Your sibling could put their names on your parents’ banking accounts, credit cards, or other ways to get access to the money.
That’s financial abuse, and it’s illegal. “I Care A Lot” brings to light the vulnerability of the elderly and shows how easily others can take advantage of them.
That movie made me uncomfortable because it hit much too close to home. After all, I’ve seen it happen, and it’s cruel and devastating to the older adult who lives on a fixed income and using their assets to live and take care of themselves. However, we should all be shown this aspect of abuse and be aware that it goes on and becomes uncomfortable about it.