AP NEWS

Betty Heath: Helping the Helpless

February 24, 2019
Betty Heath From My Deck

Abuse of senior citizens is growing at a fast pace all across our country. The statistics are staggering and will only increase if measures aren’t taken to stop it. Often the abuse comes from a member or members of the person’s own family. The abuse can begin as simple as good intentions gone wrong. After gaining the trust of a person it becomes easy for them to “dupe” their loved one into believing they are doing what’s best for them.

I know this to be true not only because it happened in my family a few years ago, but because a number of readers have shared their stories with me recently. Probably the reason we don’t hear more stories about senior abuse is because it is a hard one to share. It’s really tough to admit that one’s own flesh and blood can be so deceitful and hurtful to someone they’ve known and claimed to love for many years.

After my mother had a stroke a trusted family member convinced her she was dying and promised to take care of her and her finances. True to his word, he cleaned out her house, sold everything she owned then put her house on the market for sale. Fortunately, I found out about it; she recovered and we took her house off the market and moved her back in. Because he left her penniless I was able to secure help for her through the Legal Aid Society where she lived.

A few weeks ago I listened as one of my readers told me about her elderly brother’s son obtaining access to her brother’s bank account and spending every penny. While I was visiting my daughter in Texas one of her friends told me about helping move her mom from Oklahoma to Texas and setting up her bank account and securing an apartment for her only to have her brother sue her for misusing those funds. Even though she had spread sheets and ledgers showing where the monies were spent he took her to court and she ended up paying over $10,000 out of pocket to prove her innocence. And, heartbreak on top of heartbreak, he now has control of their mom’s finances and personal care.

Please listen! If these stories sound all too familiar to you, there is help. Wherever your loved one lives, you can find assistance to keep abuse from happening or find justice when they do occur. If you live in Colorado and need information and assistance, please check with some or all that are listed below. My mother spent the last four years of her life agonizing and grieving over the wrong that had been done to her. Don’t let this happen to your loved one. Get the help your family needs. You can make a difference in the life of someone you love.

ColoradoLegalServices.org is an online guide to free civil legal services for low-income persons including seniors in Colorado. Here you can find information on all of the free legal aid programs in Colorado.

Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley for individuals affected by domestic abuse. They have a 24 hour crisis hotline: 303-772-4422 as well as a Teen Crisis Text Line: 720-340-TERA. They also provide emergency shelter, individual and group advocacy, youth/children services; legal advocacy; information and referrals, community and peer education. You can reach the Program Coordinator via email: Carolyn@safeshelterofstvrain.org . Donations are always appreciated and can be sent to Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley, PO Box 231; Longmont, Co., 80502-0231. Make that donation today.

You or someone you know don’t have to feel helpless. Help is just a phone call or text away from finding the assistance you need today.