They Prey on the Elderly

Posted on June 26, 2012 by


Several years ago, a family member who has Alzheimer’s disease had to be placed in an assisted living facility.  She was eight-five at the time.  During the transition we found a collection bill for a casket no one knew she had purchased.  I called the number on the statement and was given the run-around for a good fifteen minutes before demanding to speak with a manager.  A woman who identified herself as a supervisor, but would not give her last name, said that the contract was signed a year prior and was delinquent.

“What did you expect?” I said.  “Your salesperson sold a casket to an eighty-five year old with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.”

“Well, we still expect our clients to pay on schedule,” she said.

I suggested a more important issue was why she was sending her salespeople to adult day-centers for seniors who have Alzheimer’s.  She did not respond.  When I threatened to contact the Attorney General, she told me we could “work something out.”

“There’s nothing to work out,” I said.  “You need to refund this contract.  She already has a casket that is paid-in-full – she doesn’t need two.”  I also explained that “her client” had just moved into a facility under the advice of her physician.

“The best I can do is let her out of the rest of the contract,” she said.  “I’m not going to make someone in a nursing home keep paying on their contract – I’m not that mean.”

I explained to her that she wasn’t doing her client any favors – all her money was now going to the facility and if manipulating seniors at the end of their life wasn’t mean, I didn’t know what was.

“Well, I could still make her pay – it is a legal contract,” she said.  The contract was eventually voided, but no money was refunded.

I’ve heard one too many stories from my senior patients who unknowingly signed-over benefits or purchased something they didn’t even know they bought.  It is nothing less than predatory to lure an elderly person into making a business decision, especially when they don’t have the mental capacity to do so.  It bothers me to have to tell someone close to the end of their life that they need to be on guard for predators.  I’d rather tell them to relax and not worry about a thing.


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