Elder exploitation is an ongoing issue in Delta County

By Hank Lohmeyer

In a discussion with county commissioners about a recent incident where an elderly county resident was defrauded of $85,000, staff from the county human services department noted in a report, "Delta County is very vulnerable to (elder) exploitation at this time. This area is home to many elderly or vulnerable adults with financial resources and assets. Law enforcement and adult protective services have very limited resources to pursue complicated exploitation cases all the way through to prosecutions."

The report states that officials have intervened on many occasions, but it adds that "getting these cases prosecuted has not been very successful."

The report notes other recent examples of elder exploitation in Delta County:

• A trailer and $180,000 were taken from an elderly client by family/caregivers who then placed the client in a nursing facility using Medicaid. The client passed away in the nursing home.

• Over $300,000 worth of land and farm equipment and $160,000 in cash was taken using alleged power of attorney. The county's adult protective services unit "assisted the family with getting a conservatorship and guardianship to secure the client's estate."

The county human services department is making other efforts to raise awareness and make prevention and enforcement more effective. The county unit has helped with presentations on the problem in Delta and Montrose, and the local unit hosted a state training on forensic accounting for exploitation cases attended by agencies from Mesa, Montrose, Gunnison and Ouray.