Protecting the financial exploitation of senior citizens in Ingham County and the surrounding areas has been the focus of an initiative being conducted by Western Michigan University Cooley Law School's Sixty Plus, Inc., Elderlaw Clinic. Earlier this year, the clinic was awarded nearly $54,000 in grants to develop materials, create a curriculum and awareness campaign, and host community workshops to educate aging adults on how to avoid becoming a victim of financial exploitation.
The non-profit clinic was recently awarded an additional $14,000 from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Aging and Adult Services Agency PREVNT Initiative for the project, which will be completed at the end of September.
Other organizations that have contributed to the clinic’s initiative through grant funding include the Capital Region Community Foundation, Lansing Area Community Trust, Elder Law of Michigan and WMU Center for Gerontology.
The Elderlaw Clinic will host two financial education workshops for aging adults during the month of September, which are free and open to the public.
- Sept. 7, the clinic will host an event with the End Violent Encounters organization at the Tri-County Office on Aging’s community room, 5303 S Cedar St. Lansing, 9-10 a.m.
- Sept. 20, the clinic will present at the Delta Township Public Library during a luncheon from 12:30-1:30 p.m.
“Unfortunately, senior citizens are prime targets for financial exploitation, but increased awareness and early intervention efforts can help prevent the elderly from being victimized,” said Kimberly O'Leary, WMU-Cooley professor and director of the Sixty Plus, Inc., Elderlaw Clinic. “Thanks to the community support and grant funds we’ve received, the clinic and its law students are able to continue efforts to grow awareness of this prevalent issue and help prevent frauds, scams and other types of elder financial exploitation."
The Sixty Plus Clinic in collaboration with Elder Law of Michigan provides legal help to persons 60 years of age or older primarily in Ingham, Eaton or Clinton counties. There are no income guidelines for this program, but the clinic gives priority to individuals with the greatest social and economic need. The non-profit clinic has been helping aging adults for more than 30 years.
As a result of the grant funding, the clinic has conducted several information events and fairs in the community. The clinic has also produced and distributed hundreds of booklets on senior financial exploitation prevention in both English and Spanish. The booklets are accessible online at protectmymoneymi.org and are being distributed through the Tri-County Office on Aging and the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency. The efforts have been recognized in the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging’s Bifocal magazine.