Protecting A Loved One from Elder Financial Abuse
While much effort has gone into bringing public awareness to the prevalence of child abuse over the last
few decades, the frequency with which the elderly are also abused is just beginning to come to light. In
many ways, the elderly can be considered as vulnerable as a child, making them an easy target. The
elderly are often victims of physical or emotional abuse; however, unlike children, the elderly are also
prime targets for another type of abuse – financial abuse.
The elderly make easy targets for this type of abuse for a few important reasons. First, they are often
isolated, even alone, making it easier for a predator to endear himself or herself to the victim. Second,
the elderly often need doctors, nurses, home healthcare workers, house cleaners and a variety of other
people to help them on a daily basis. Each one of these people could take advantage of an elderly
person. Finally, as we age, we sometimes start to lose our ability to think clearly. Whether due to
Alzheimer’s or another medical condition, many of the elderly should not be making financial decisions
without assistance and predators know this. While outright theft is certainly one form of financial abuse,
there are other forms that you should be on the lookout for including:
The theft of small items from the home. Whether it is groceries, jewelry or books, anything that
comes up missing could be a huge sign that something is wrong
Overcharging. If your loved one has people that care for him or her, take the time to look over
the bills and make sure that your loved one is not being overcharged.
ATM card abuse. If your loved one has given someone access to his or her ATM card to run
errands, look over the monthly statements to make sure that there has not been additional
withdrawals while the card was in the person’s possession.
Unnecessary purchases. Salespeople love the elderly because they can often talk them into
buying things they do not need. Make sure this isn’t happening to your loved one.
Signing over control. Ask your loved one if anyone has asked him or her to sign ANYTHING. Truly
unscrupulous people will sometimes ask an elderly individual to sign something like a power of
attorney but not tell them what it is they are really signing.
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