Yesterday, we talked about elder financial abuse, and the devastating impact that it has on senior citizens, and the family caregivers that help them get through the day. Today, we are going to talk about what financial abuse is, and what you can do to ensure that your elderly loved one is not hurt by this. Although financial abuse might not leave physical signs like bruises, bedsores, or muscle atrophy, it does still have huge repercussions. Taking steps to prevent and stop it can go a long way toward improving your loved one’s quality of life and peace of mind.
Financial abuse can take many different forms. It can be downright theft by a trusted individual or someone who has access to their banking information. It can take the form of a scam over the phone or the internet. We have all heard about the ridiculous “Nigerian Prince” scams, but people do fall for these, and often the elderly are targeted because this population is perceived as being less likely to know how to navigate technology. Financial abuse can also take the form of coercion into signing legal documents, like a will, power of attorney, or something else where another individual can stand to benefit. There are other variations of financial abuse that can occur as well, but these are the major categories.
Next, let’s take a look at who is most likely to act in an abusive manner when it comes to finances. While there is no singular profile for who might commit this crime, there are certain types that are more likely to do so than others. Those with a good deal of debt, or a drug or gambling habit might be more prone to commit financial abuse. Sometimes the perpetrator might profess to love or deeply care about the elderly individual so that they can get closer to them. In other instances, it might just be a distant scammer. That’s not to say that people in these positions are always going to commit abuse, but they do come from a population that would stand to gain more from it.
That leads us to our last topic for the day: how do we spot it and stop it? You need to know the signs and the profiles of those likely to commit abuse. You also need to ensure that your loved one’s accounts have supervision. This way, if something unusual does occur, it can be spotted before it goes on for too long.
Having a team of trustworthy people is one of the best ways that we have observed to ensure accountability. Privacy is important, but so is the wellbeing of your family. Whether your team is comprised of family members, professionals in the field, or other trustworthy third parties, having more than one person involved in the safeguarding process is the best way to prevent any one person from using their position to gain here. If financial abuse is a concern in your particular situation, this may be worth looking into. Speaking to a legal professional that specializes in elder law may be of help to you.