Unfortunately, our senior community is a growing target for manipulation, exploitation, neglect, and abuse. As our senior loved ones age, we must make many decisions on their behalf to assist in their care and well-being. Sadly, financial elder abuse is a frequent occurrence, with one in six senior adults experiencing some type of abuse in community settings.
With the prevalence of financial abuse and exploitation that impacts seniors annually, you need to be aware of how to best prevent your senior family member from suffering this type of abuse while at home or in the community.
5 Steps to Take When Preventing Financial Elder Abuse
Financial abuse occurs when a resident’s money or personal belongings are stolen from them without their knowledge or consent. This may include taking valuables from their room, forging checks, taking money from their source of income, or using bank accounts or credit cards. In extreme cases, it may even include changing their names on their bank account, wills, or even their life insurance policies.
To prevent financial abuse of your senior family member, consider the following steps:
Be Extremely Selective When Choosing a Caregiver
An effective method of preventing financial elderly abuse is to be extremely selective when choosing a caregiver. Ask potential caregivers to provide referrals and meet with them to evaluate if the caregiver will meet your expectations. When you are narrowing down your options, make sure that they are registered and certified with the state and that you conduct a proper background check.
Inventory All Valuables
Jewelry is one of the most commonly stolen possessions from the elderly. To ensure that their valuables remain safe, make sure to inventory all items, take pictures, and keep them in a locked or secure location.
Mail theft occurs frequently with unsecured mailboxes. It is best to get a locked mailbox or P.O. box at a local post office to prevent personal information from being stolen. You may also consider monitoring solicitations for charitable or political contributions because this is a common way for scammers to financially exploit the elderly.
Send Duplicate Bank Statements to a Trusted Family Member
Most frequently, financial abuse cases are reported six to nine months after the initial losses have occurred because it was not spotted earlier. Sending duplicate bank statements to a trusted family member may help catch suspicious activity in its early stages.
Sign Up for Bank Account Tracking Services
There are numerous apps that may be able to track suspicious activity like missing deposits, unusual withdrawals, or extreme changes in spending patterns. These services will notify you or a trusted advocate to put an end to financial exploitation.
If your elderly family member does become a victim of financial abuse, these apps may also walk you through the necessary steps in reporting and mitigating losses.
Potential Signs Your Senior Family Member Has Been Financially Abused
The National Council on Aging reports over five million elderly Americans are financially abused annually, and losses by the victims are estimated to be $36.5 billion. Due to certain conditions and illnesses, it may be more challenging for elderly adults to realize they are being financially abused.
If your elderly family member exhibits any of these signs, they may be a potential victim of financial abuse:
- Extreme changes in spending habits
- Unexplained loans
- Anxiety related to finances
- Disappearing assets, such as money and valuables
- Abruptly releasing financial control to someone new
If you suspect your elderly family member has been a victim of financial elder abuse in your community, speak with an experienced attorney for knowledgeable legal guidance regarding your best legal options.
Speak With the Asset Protection Lawyers at Fratello Law
At Fratello Law, we have over 120 years of experience and are exceptionally knowledgeable in New York elder law to ensure that your legal rights are protected. We offer efficient and diligent representation because we know that every day counts when it comes to securing adequate care for your family member.
Small Firm, Big Heart.