Financial abuse of the elderly is not uncommon. Sadly, and not surprisingly, abusers usually are family members, caregivers or trusted friends. These people already play a role in their lives. They have been inside their homes, likely have a key to enter and know where he or she keeps valuables. And, in some of the cases, it may be an adult child living at the home.
Essentially, an elderly person depends on them and, for the most part, trusts them. However, they also may fear them. The abusers may rely on manipulation, untruths, bullying and coercion to obtain what they want from your elderly loved one. To protect elderly loved ones from financial abuse, be present in their lives, be vigilant and take necessary steps to fend off the possibility that it happens.
Talk with your parent, remain alert to scams
Here are some important steps to take that may protect your elderly loved one from being a victim of financial abuse:
- Have serious financial discussions with your parent. This is a delicate issue, so be understanding, listen, but also tell your father or mother possible scenarios related to financial fraud. Let them know that trusted individuals may have ulterior motives.
- Become his or her financial power of attorney. In this role, you become responsible for making financial decisions for your parent. You will manage his or her financial life, paying bills and overseeing other financial investments.
- Determine where he or she stores key financial documents.
- Monitor his or her financial accounts and especially look for any changes, including unusual activity such as unexpected withdrawals.
- Simplify money management by streamlining his or her financial accounts. This may include eliminating some credit cards, combining mutual funds, IRAs or 401(k)s. Set up automatic bill pay for things such as utilities or cable television.
- Be aware of current financial scams that target the elderly, and let your parent know about them.
- Make regular visits to your parent at his or her residence, whether it be at their home, senior living facility or nursing home. Your presence serves as a safety shield. Any potential abuser will think twice before trying to pull anything.
- Consider installing “granny cams” – security cameras — in certain areas of your parent’s residence in order to monitor the comings and goings of individuals in their lives.
Vulnerable people such as the elderly, sometimes, become targets of unscrupulous individuals. You want to protect them and their finances. They protected you when you were a child, now it is your turn.