In 2009, one of my constituents in Arvada learned that her 80-year-old father, George, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My constituent, Chaya Finton, later discovered that one of her nephews had been stealing thousands of dollars from …
This item is available in full to subscribers.
If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.
Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.
If you made a voluntary contribution of $25 or more in Nov. 2018-2019, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access Includes access to all websites
In 2009, one of my constituents in Arvada learned that her 80-year-old father, George, had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. My constituent, Chaya Finton, later discovered that one of her nephews had been stealing thousands of dollars from George’s bank account — and that George’s other daughter used George’s bank account to fund her family’s trip to Europe. Nearly $100,000 of George’s savings disappeared before anybody even noticed. Now the courts are trying to sort it out, and Chaya and her husband have spent more than $40,000 in legal fees.
Chaya’s story is tragic, disturbing — and sadly all too common. Throughout Colorado and across the country, seniors are increasingly targeted for fraud and exploitation. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, nearly 25 percent of fraud complaints in 2012 were filed by Americans over 60 years old, more than doubling the problem from the time in 2008 when 10 percent of seniors were defrauded. In 2010, financial abuse cost older Americans nearly $3 billion.
In response, Gov. John Hickenlooper last year signed a law requiring social workers, home health staff, and other professionals to report any suspected abuse or exploitation of seniors. This process, known as “mandatory reporting,” is set to take effect this summer, providing a critical line of defense for our seniors.
But first, law enforcement officials have asked legislators to clarify parts of the law in ways that would make it stronger and more effective. I’ve introduced Senate Bill 14-098 that would address those concerns.
It crystallizes existing law in a common-sense way, to establish clearly that the exploitation of seniors should be considered “abuse.” Many older Americans are coerced into giving consent or otherwise allowing someone they trust to manage their finances. Unfortunately, the elders’ trust is too often misplaced. By making exploitation itself a crime, this bill would give law enforcement the necessary authority to prosecute all types of financial abuse against seniors.
The bill also makes a number of smaller clean-up tweaks to the law, all with the support of law enforcement and the goal of protecting seniors from fraud, abuse, and exploitation. The bill was approved by the Judiciary Committee in a 5-0 vote and passed the full Senate unanimously with bipartisan support. I am confident my colleagues in the House will also see the value of this simple but critical legislation.
Every year, thousands of Coloradans find themselves in the kind of situation that Chaya and her father have experienced, fighting against fraud and exploitation. We have an obligation to give our seniors and their families the legal resources they need to fight and prosecute these crimes. This bill can’t heal all the pain caused by people who would steal from our helpless elders; but it’s a common-sense tool that deserves to be made available to the family members, friends, and law enforcement people who care enough to make the effort.
Other items that may interest you
We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.
The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.