Aging In Michigan - May 2022

The COVID exploitation bubble

At CT, we have been experiencing an increasing number of vulnerable adult  financial exploitation cases for years.  Lately, there seems to be a boom in these cases, seemingly as a result of the things that were going while many seniors were isolated in their homes as a result of the COVID pandemic.

Isolation and alienation are probably the two most consistent features of vulnerable adult exploitation cases.  People who want to exploit older adults almost always work to separate the target from the people who have historically been involved in their lives – the people they have trusted.  And we’re not just talking about strangers.  For instance, the bad actor is commonly a child who isolates the parent from the other children and turns the parent against them.

Because COVID restrictions promoted the benefits of isolating older people and limiting the number of individuals who had physical access to them, it created a fertile environment for exploitation. From what we are seeing now, in many situations, that’s exactly what went on.

Exacerbating the problem is the fact that these extended periods of isolation also promoted depression in the older adults, making the older adult more vulnerable and only further opening the door to exploitation.

In a significant number of the cases we see coming in these days, the bad actors encouraged the vulnerable adult to believe that the reason no one else was coming around was because the other people simply weren’t interested in the well-being of the older adult, and that they (the bad actors) were the only ones who cared.

The sheer length of the pandemic and the disproportionate impact of COVID on older adults, has given rise to many problems which are only now coming to the surface.  This bubble in financial exploitation cases is one.


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