As the Baby Boomer and Silent Generation get older and continue to retire, financial exploitation of older adults is on the rise. Seniors lose an estimated $30 billion annually due to financial exploitation, according to the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Unfortunately, the most common abusers tend to be friends, family members, acquaintances, or other trusted people that find ways to take advantage of those in cognitive decline.
Although this issue has become increasingly prevalent, even more so during the Covid-19 pandemic, not everyone knows what elder abuse or financial exploitation of older adults looks like. If you’re searching for easy-to-understand resources on the topic or just something extra to watch during quarantine, here’s a list of TV shows and documentaries all highlighting these issues.
The fifth episode in the investigative documentary series newly released second season on Netflix exposes the insidious form of abuse within America’s legal guardianship system. In “Guardians, Inc” they reveal how abusive guardianship robs our most vulnerable citizens of the American dream. It shows how in states like Texas, guardians are entitled to earn commissions on sales of their wards’ assets, on top of drawing wages for themselves, assistants, and lawyers. As more older adults become vulnerable as they age this is an important episode to watch to understand how this form of financial exploitation happens.
In the 1990’s Buffalo, NY became a hotbed for debt collectors, agencies, and telemarketing companies known for routinely violating state and federal debt collection laws. In Buffaloed, a 2019 comedy set in the underground world of debt collecting, we follow the film’s hilarious protagonist, Peg Dahl, who will do anything to escape the life she’s living, including preying on older adults with dementia. If you’re looking for a laugh and a lighter look at the world of scamming this is a fun movie selection.
Set in Las Vegas, The Guardians is a revealing investigative documentary that highlights and exposes allegations of corruption within the Nevada Guardianship and Family Court system. In the film both victims and their loved ones are caught in a scam that has allowed corrupt court-appointed guardians to take total control over individuals’ healthcare and financial decisions. Similar to the episode of Dirty Money, this documentary provides a closer look at guardianship abuse and just how damaging it can be to the victims and their loved ones that are targeted.
Elder Victims: Abused, Exploited, Alone
Elder abuse is one type of abuse that often goes unnoticed due to how disconnected and isolated older adults can become as they advance into their golden years. In this short PBS documentary we see the challenges that arise in protecting older adults and the issues their family members and caregivers can face.
Last Will and Embezzlement
Starring acclaimed actor Mickey Rooney, Last Will and Embezzlement, is a feature-length documentary about financial exploitation of the elderly inspired by recent, true-life events that happened to the family of the Executive Producer of the film, Pamela S. K. Glasner. Although the film showcases what happened to Ms. Glasner’s family, its focus goes much broader in an effort to highlight just how universal and prevalent the issue of senior financial exploitation is.