When one thinks of financial elder abuse you think of the strange telephone calls requesting money for an investment scheme. You think of IRS scams or even calls about a “kidnapped” grandchild. You think of those glaringly obvious situations where you wonder how anyone could be taken advantage of. It’s surprisingly to learn that most fraudulent financial elder abuse is done by a child, family “friend”, hired caregivers, and hired contractors.
Why Are Elders Taken Advantage Of?
Elders are typically taken advantage because they rarely will report the abuse. This is due to embarrassment, cognitive decline or sometimes believing they are giving a gift to one in need. This is stealing although the perpetrators rarely think of it that way.
How Do We Spot Potential Elder Abuse?
Family members prey on the elderly by convincing themselves it’s a part of their inheritance anyway or they have some right to it. For this reason, one needs to be careful of the troubled “prodigal” child that comes back to the fold after many years.
Close family friends also take advantage of this age group. For instance, friends of your children’s while growing up befriend these second parents. They visit and steal valuable items they know are in the house. This can be anything from valuable family heirlooms, hidden money they know how to access, or even money out in the open. Beware of the sudden appearance of old family friends in your loved one’s lives.
Many elderly people are lonely and hired caregivers can prey on this loneliness as well. They become friends with the person, spill their sad life story and the abused elders take pity on that person by offering money or valuable items. Often they will “sell” things for far less than they’re are worth such the car they no longer drive. Once these people get what they’re after they tend to disappear from the lives of those elders.
Hired contractors also scam elders out of money. Many times contractors will report items that need fixed in the home that really are not broke. Its easy to trick those who no longer have the ability to inspect certain areas of the house themselves in these cases. Many too do not have the knowledge to spot a scam in these cases trusting the expert in their home. To combat this, elders should always get more than one estimate making certain they are detailed and in writing.
How Can We Protect Our Elders?
Most elder abuse is not reported. Victims tend to be embarrassed for falling for these schemes and don’t want to acknowledge their mistake. Often these elders are lonely with children that live out of town who do not realize that this is going on. Elders that are allowing close friends or family members to help with finances are hesitant to admit cognitive decline.
As such we all need to be vigilant n protecting our elders. Be proactive and use resources available to you to protect your family. Our Life Care Managers are a great way to prevent elder abuse from happening in your family. And that’s just one aspect of the help that they can provide.
If you or a family member suspect financial elder abuse one should gather as much evidence as possible, and get the authorities involved. Every state has different laws regarding elder abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse can guide you to your state’s elder abuse hotline.