Senior citizens are at risk for many different types of abuse: physical, emotional and financial. Some people target the elderly because the elderly might be unsophisticated about financial matters or do not have the technology skills to manage their finances. The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse estimates People Over 50 Control About 70 Percent Of The Nation’s Wealth.
Financial abuse takes many different forms:
- Forging signatures of a person to gain access to their accounts
- Scams or confidence crimes (cons)
- Getting an older person to sign over a deed or power of attorney by use of deception or coercion
- Telemarketing scams
- Promising care in exchange for money and not following through
Financial abusers can be family members, caregivers or even strangers. Many times, the elderly are vulnerable because they are lonely or isolated. When a person is grieving, it is easy to exploit their good nature.
You can recognize financial abuse by watching for these signs:
- Unpaid bills
- Large withdrawals or transfers that are unusual
- New legal documents
- Depression or unusual behavior in the elderly adult
- New “friends”
- Work done on the home that was not necessary
- Missing property or belongings
Stopping or preventing financial abuse can be difficult, as with any type of abuse. You may need to help your loved one find a neutral party to help monitor finances. If outside help is not an option, designate two or three family members to hold monthly meetings to handle finances for a senior. Make sure to include the person as much as possible. The money still belongs to the person.
If you suspect financial abuse, you can contact your local Administration on Aging to have a social worker help protect your loved one. You may need to talk to an attorney about following up to get money returned to the accounts. By being proactive, you can help your elderly family members stay financially independent.