Professor Faith Mullen has organized four conferences
at CUA Law that provide new tools for social workers
and others to help society's most vulnerable people.
Financial Exploitation of the Elderly
in the Spotlight at Conference Hosted by CUA Law
As people grow older, some gradually lose firm control of their finances. Unwittingly, they can become vulnerable to the manipulation of their resources by those who don’t necessarily have their best interests at heart.
It is not always as obvious as slick con men or glib telephone shysters, either. The elderly can be fleeced by poorly drawn wills, ambiguous powers-of-attorney, deceptive medical billing or complex and confusing banking practices that leave them in the dark about where their money is actually going.
Sadly, they are sometimes victimized by members of their own families.
In an effort to educate and alert societal caregivers about the problem, the Columbus School of Law and Professor Faith Mullen hosted “Financial Exploitation is Elder Abuse” on June 18, 2010.
Sixty-nine social workers, case managers, investigators, lawyers and law interns attended and completed written evaluations of the program. The day-long conference was the result of a partnership between the law school’s legal clinic, Columbus Community Legal Services, and the D.C. Office on Aging, Adult Protective Services, and Family Matters. The training was also approved for continuing education hours for social workers by the National Association of Social Workers.
As she has for the previous three years, Professor Mullen made all of the arrangements for the use of the university facilities. Past law and social work conferences have also been related to the problems faced by vulnerable adults, such as compulsive hoarding. This year, Professor Mullen spoke about the uses and abuses of financial powers-of-attorney. Her co-presenter was Cecelia Steiner-Smith, from the Office of the D.C. Attorney General.
Speakers also addressed such topics as financial exploitation in long-term care, deceptive Medicare/Medicaid Beneficiaries billing practices, and civil and criminal aspects of financial exploitation.
Training objectives included helping social workers recognize financial exploitation of vulnerable adults as an issue which needs to be addressed in order to protect clients. They were taught some of the red flags that can signal abusive or dishonest financial practices that are aimed at the elderly, and also spent time discussing what can be done when examples of financial exploitation are discovered.