Aging Detroit Citizens Stuck in Crumbling Homes, Targeted By Con Men
As baby boomers grow older, the number of Americans over the age of 65 increases every year, making millions of U.S. citizens highly vulnerable to elder abuse. However, older Americans at the bottom of the economic spectrum face additional challenges.
In addition to financial abuse and con men, many elderly Detroit citizens struggle to maintain their quality of life in crumbling old homes, sometimes in largely empty neighborhoods. Without a community to check on them regularly, and without retirement funds to pay for expensive repairs, many Detroit seniors are barely hanging on.
One Detroit family is struggling to provide care for their beloved Uncle Oscar, a mentally disabled 68-year-old man. In recent years, Uncle Oscar’s brothers and caretakers have all passed away, and now he refuses to leave his familiar home. Unfortunately, the roof has a hole, mold infests the entire upper floor, and the ceilings and walls are collapsing. Uncle Oscar’s family cares for him the best they can, but can’t afford the repairs it would take to improve his quality of life.
And like many families, they want to let Uncle Oscar “age in place,” rather than moving him into a retirement home. About 90% of seniors in the United States want to remain in their home as they grow old, and moving to a new environment can worsen some symptoms of dementia. Uncle Oscar’s situation is hardly unique, and despite small donations from the community, his family is largely coming up empty as they pray for a solution.
However, seniors at the upper end of the financial spectrum often suffer not for lack of money, but because their money makes them an easy target for scammers.
“The seniors hold the majority of the wealth in this country,” says Lynne Egan of the North American Securities Administrators Association. “They’ve saved up for retirement, they’ve got the 401(k) that they’ve rolled over into the qualified plan, they’ve sold a home to downsize, they’ve sold a business, they’ve inherited, and they’re ripe for the plucking by the con artists.”
Experts warn that nearly $17 billion is stolen from seniors through financial exploitation, while around $13 billion is outright stolen from them.