Predators, Parasites and Ambulance Chasers: Financial Exploitation Of The Elderly In Rural America

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: Booth 40
Oral Presentation
Shirley NUSS , Nuss & Asssociates, Fort Morgan, CO
This discussion is based on more than a decade of participant-observation in a rural community with 8,000 residents and fifty churches. At the beginning of the decade, the author became a resident exclusively engaged in the full-time care of elderly parents. During the decade, a dramatic increase in overt hostility towards the rural elderly was observed and documented as a new culture was emerging to replace respect for the elderly with three main agents - predators, parasites and ambulance chasers.

This paper discusses variations among these agents as they accomplish their objective of financial exploitation of the elderly. The predator waits for an opportunity to exploit the elderly by profiting from their limited ability to defend themselves. Older children form a major predator group, along with those associated with assisted living and nursing homes. For parasites, economic survival flows from exploiting the elderly through provision of services and products that they are no longer able to access or acquire without assistance. Children and grandchildren increasingly operate as parasites. Observation suggests parasites at least double their profit from work for the elderly relative to other age-groups. Some parasites operate from local shops and businesses or as attorneys engaged in servicing the elderly, with financial gain being similarly disproportionate as their primary objective. Medicare beneficiaries are often primary targets of parasites. Ambulance chasers may be engaged in provision of health care as well as entrepreneurs who offer people released from the hospital with assistance in selling everything they own, including their home; when met with resistance, phone calls to parasites in social services often facilitates the acquisition of a power of attorney for this final stage of asset appropriation. It concludes with observations suggesting 50 churches serving 8,000 are financially viable with these agents.