Perfect prey: Elderly, sick easy targets for abusive caregivers

In Philadelphia alone, there are more than 73,000 residents with disabilities so severe that they require someone else to manage their annual Social Security benefits - totaling almost $50 million a month, or about $600 million a year, according to the Social Security Administration.

The benefits are supposed to pay for food, shelter and personal necessities. But for those who prey on the helpless, it is a lucrative enterprise that holds little chance of getting caught.

Experts say the physical abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of the elderly and disabled is rampant and underreported.

"It's a tsunami," said Joe Snyder, director of older adult protective services at the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging.

"It's America's dirty little secret."

Published on Philly.com January 21, 2014