It’s a sad fact that elder financial abuse is on the rise. But it doesn’t have to be a problem for you or your loved one. In this article, we’ll discuss how to recognize the signs of elder financial abuse and how to take action quickly and effectively if it does happen.
What is Elder Financial Abuse?
The term “elder financial abuse” encompasses various crimes committed against older adults. It can include anything from theft and fraud to identity theft and exploitation.
Elder financial abuse is a growing problem in the United States. According to a report from the National Center on Elder Abuse, one in nine seniors has experienced some form of elder financial abuse. And that number is expected to rise as the population ages.
Numerous factors can make older adults vulnerable to financial abuse, which can result in them becoming a target. They may have cognitive impairments that make them more vulnerable to scams. They may also be isolated or have limited social support, making them easy targets for predators.
Whatever the reason, elder financial abuse is a serious problem with potentially devastating consequences. Victimized seniors often lose their life savings, leaving them destitute and dependent on others for support. They may also suffer physical and emotional harm as a result of the abuse.
If you suspect that an older adult in your life is being financially abused, there are steps you can take to help. First, talk to the person about your concerns and offer your support. You can also contact Adult Protective Services or the police if you believe a crime has been committed. And finally, encourage the person to seek professional help to deal with the aftermath of the abuse.
Why it Happens
There are many reasons why elders may be targeted for financial abuse. They may have a large amount of money saved up, own valuable property, or have a good income from retirement benefits or investments. Criminals may target them because they think elders are easy to exploit and may be less likely to report the abuse.
Elders may also be more vulnerable to financial abuse because of cognitive decline or physical frailty. They may be unable to understand complex financial transactions or unable to physically defend themselves from someone who wants to take their money.
Somebody financially abusing an elder may exhibit signs such as sudden changes in the elder’s bank account activity, making unexpected withdrawals from the elder’s accounts, including unfamiliar names on the elder’s credit card statements, and altering the elder’s will or power of attorney.
If you see any of these signs, it’s important to talk to the elder about what’s happening and get help from a professional if needed.
How to Prevent It
There are a few key things you can do to help prevent elder financial abuse:
1. Keep tabs on your finances and be aware of what is going on with your money. This includes keeping track of bank statements, credit card statements, and investments.
2. Do not give out personal information like your social security number or bank account information to anyone unless you know and trust them completely.
3. Be careful about who you let into your home. If someone comes to your door selling something or offering services, make sure you know who they are and that they are legitimate before letting them in.
4. Do not sign any documents without reading and understanding them first. If you are not sure about something, ask a trusted friend or family member to look it over for you.
5. Be wary of anyone who pressures you for money or financial information. Never give in to demands for money or gifts, no matter how persuasive the person may be.
Signs of Elder Financial Abuse
There are a number of signs that can indicate elder financial abuse. These include:
1. Sudden changes in banking or financial activity. This can include large withdrawals from accounts, new accounts being opened, or unusual transactions.
2. Unpaid bills or sudden financial problems.
3. Changes in living arrangements or lifestyle. This can include moving to a new home or downsizing unexpectedly.
4. Changes in mood or behavior. This can include becoming withdrawn, agitated, or uncharacteristically paranoid.
5. A caregiver who is overly interested in money or possessions.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action immediately. You should speak to your loved one and try to get to the bottom of what’s going on. You should also contact their bank or financial institution to see if there has been any unusual activity on their accounts. If you suspect elder financial abuse, you should contact the authorities right away so they can investigate and help protect your loved one from further harm.
Tips to Protect Yourself or a Loved One
There are a few key things you can do to help prevent elder financial abuse, or to protect yourself or a loved one from it.
First, it’s important to be aware of the signs of elder financial abuse. These can include unexpected changes in a bank account or credit card activity, sudden changes in wills or power of attorney, and sudden large withdrawals from accounts. If you see any of these red flags, take action immediately.
Second, don’t let anyone pressure you into making financial decisions on the spot. If someone is pressuring you for money or trying to get access to your finances, tell them no and consult with someone you trust before making any decisions.
Third, keep your financial information secure. Be sure to shred all unwanted documents that contain sensitive information like your Social Security number or bank account information. And don’t carry around your Social Security card; leave it in a secure place at home.
Fourth, create a budget and stick to it. This will help you keep track of your spending and make sure that your money is going where it should be going. If you’re unable to stick to a budget on your own, there are plenty of resources out there that can help, including books, articles, and even apps.
Finally, know when to ask for help. If you sense someone is pressuring you to make financial decisions or have concerns about somebody gaining access to your finances, take action and contact a trusted family member, friend, or financial professional for assistance without delay.
Elder financial abuse is a serious problem, but it’s one that we can all help to prevent. By following the tips in this article, we can all do our part to keep our elderly loved ones safe from financial predators. If you suspect someone you know is being abused, don’t hesitate to contact the authorities or a trusted loved one for help. With everyone’s help, we can put a stop to elder financial abuse.