Financial abuse isn’t just something that happens to wealthy senior citizens. Yes, there have been high profile instances of senior abuse such as what Mickey Rooney and Brooke Astor endured. But the majority of seniors that face financial abuse are not wealthy. In fact, this can happen just as easily to individuals from lower class backgrounds.
Abuse of any sort is not just wrong, it is illegal. That includes financial abuse. The big issue is that because the population that is impacted–seniors, in this case–is often far more vulnerable than the general public. There are many instances where abuse isn’t known to have occurred until well after the fact. And the people that are hurt the most when something like this happens are the people who have the least to lose.
There are many variations of financial abuse. There’s the “new friend scam,” where someone befriends your elderly loved one, driving them to appointments or taking them out to run errands, while either secretly or forcefully draining their assets or have assets signed over to them. There’s the “grandparent scam,” where a call or email is sent out claiming that the grandchild has been arrested in another country (or something similar) and that bail is needed. They want secrecy because they don’t want to get in trouble, but this secrecy is actually what helps them to get away with the scam. There are instances where someone with power of attorney abuses that authority, having assets moved into personal accounts. And there are many others.
Almost all of these are completely avoidable by helping your loved one to be more aware of what potential scams exist. This involves you educating yourself, being on the lookout for anything unusual, but also helping your mom or dad to be aware of their own accounts. Current statistics say that about one in five seniors have been victimized in this type of manner. Whether the person who committed the abuse knew it was abuse or not doesn’t matter, it is still financial abuse and it is illegal. Helping your mom or dad to know what is going on and to realize that they need to be careful about who they trust will help a lot when it comes to preventing these things from happening.
It doesn’t matter if your parent is at home receiving in-home care, at an assisted living facility, a nursing home, or if they are not receiving senior care of any sort at all. Seniors are at a high risk of this sort of exploitation simply because they are targeted so much more heavily than other portions of the population. This is why we need to take steps to protect our family and others that we love. Whether they have saved millions of dollars over the years, or if they barely have enough to get by, every penny that your parents have is theirs. By helping them understand the risks, we can do our part to keep them safe and help them to more fully enjoy their retirement.