Protecting Your Money: Avoiding Elder Financial Abuse
When most people think of abuse against seniors they are usually imagining some kind of physical abuse or neglect that can leave individuals malnourished, dehydrated, and/or emotionally isolated. However, this is not the only form of abuse facing America’s seniors today. In fact, in a recent poll of professionals who work with our country’s aging population, 43% of those interviewed said that their greatest fear regarding individuals 60+ years old is that this group will be unable to recognize and protect themselves from financial fraud. This type of fraud can come in a wide variety of forms.
Abuse from Family Members
Disappointingly, a shocking number of elder financial abuse cases involve a person’s family members. In many cases, it’s dangerously easy for family members to take advantage of and abuse the finances of their elderly loved ones, as it is not uncommon for aging individuals to put their children in charge of many financial matters. Abuse can take place in a number of ways, including family members diverting funds into their own accounts, making risky investments with their loved one’s money, or in other cases, stealing money and assets outright.
Abuse from Elder Care Facility Employees
In many cases, elderly individuals will move to independent living communities, elder care facilities, or nursing homes in order to receive varying degrees of care and assistance. However, the individuals who work in these facilities can be unscrupulous, abusing their positions of power and taking advantage of the finances of those individuals in their care. Like financial abuse from family members, abuse in care facilities can take a number of different forms. When facilities have direct access to their clients’ accounts, money can be diverted and stolen directly. Additionally, some facilities can over change for services or bill residents for services not provided. In some of the most brazen cases of financial abuse, elder care workers have been caught stealing money and other items directly from those in their care, or manipulating these individuals so that they hand over money and other assets as gifts to care workers.
Phone and email scams have increased significantly in recent years, targeting all sectors of the American population. Unfortunately, older individuals may be less familiar with these types of schemes, and therefore are much less likely to identify them as fraudulent should someone reach out and make contact with them over the phone or through an email. Individuals who suffer from conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are especially at risk for becoming victims of phone and email scams. If you suspect your elder loved one is being targeted by this type of scam, consider speaking to an elder care attorney, who may often take such a case on a contingency.
Helping Your Loved One Avoid Financial Abuse
If your loved one is living in an elder care facility and you are concerned about their financial well-being, education is key. Simply talking to your family member about the potential dangers that exist can raise their awareness and make it more likely that they will notice and take action if they are being targeted. Additionally, if you have access, you can monitor your family member’s financial statements to see if you notice unexpected charges or changes that could indicate fraud.