What Measures Can Be Taken to Combat Financial Exploitation of Elders?

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Elders Are at Increased Risk of Financial Exploitation

Many people don’t particularly enjoy getting older. As the old saying goes, however, aging is much better than the alternative. Unfortunately, this process also comes along with decreased mental faculties. It’s just a part of life. The worst part of this is that dishonest people use this fact to steal money from senior citizens. This is why it’s critical to take measures to combat the financial exploitation of elders.

If you think your loved one may be immune to such issues, think again. Even as federal law has cracked down on the financial abuse of seniors, the problem continues to grow in America. It’s the most common form of elder abuse, and AARP estimates that the average loss of an exploited elder is around $120,000. This amounts to a devastating blow, but fortunately, there are ways to minimize the risk of elder financial exploitation.

How to Prevent the Financial Exploitation of Elders

Elderly individuals have worked hard for what they have. Sadly, scammers and even trusted individuals may try to take this away from them. While this may seem unavoidable in some respects, the truth is that there are various strategies for reducing the risk of elder financial exploitation. They include:

Enroll Loved Ones in Financial Literacy Programs

There are many programs out there specifically designed to teach elderly individuals about financial literacy and security. The average person doesn’t understand what their aging loved ones are going through, but these classes can provide education in a way they can understand.

Regularly Monitor Financial Transactions

The only way to catch potential elder financial exploitation is to watch for early warning signs. If you monitor your loved one’s financial transactions, you’ll likely notice when something seems strange.

Use Trusted Financial Institutions

Speak to your elderly relative about only using trusted financial institutions. Make sure they understand that scammers work hard to seem legitimate, but it’s important to only deal with established and reputable institutions.

Establish Power of Attorney

Consider speaking with an attorney who offers elder law services to establish a durable power of attorney. This legal document allows a person to choose a trusted individual to manage their financial affairs. This is often done in case a person becomes unable to make their own decisions.

Caution Against Sharing Personal Information

The easiest way to combat the financial exploitation of elders is to ensure their personal information doesn’t get into the wrong hands. Speak to your loved one and make sure they understand the importance of not sharing private information (e.g., date of birth, Social Security number) with others.

Encourage Reporting

Take a nurturing approach with your elderly relatives. Don’t let them think you’ll be mad if they’re taken advantage of. Let them know that they can tell you anything, and that you’re willing to help. They should never be afraid to admit a mistake to you.

Cultivate Community and Social Engagement

Elderly individuals are easier to take advantage of when they’re isolated. Do your best to ensure they have community and social engagement.

Encourage Regular Legal Checkups

If your loved one has done proper estate planning, that’s great news! However, it’s important that they periodically review their existing legal documents. Things can change, and when they do, it’s important for updates to be made.

Consider a Conservatorship

Even if you try everything in your power, it won’t always be enough to combat the financial exploitation of your elderly loved one. When they are no longer able to be trusted with their financial well-being, consider speaking with an elder law attorney to discuss a conservatorship. It may be the only way to save your loved one from themselves.

What if Your Elder Loved One Has Been Victimized?

Unfortunately, people sometimes find themselves in a position where it’s too late to prevent the financial exploitation of their loved ones. Even with safeguards in place, it’s possible for senior citizens to be taken advantage of. After all, people under the age of 60 recently saw their risk of being scammed increase by 34% in just a single year.

This shows that anyone can be taken care of financially. If you believe this has happened to an elderly loved one, there are a few steps you should take:

  • Contact law enforcement immediately if your loved one is in imminent danger
  • Have an honest conversation with your loved one about the transactions in question
  • Keep detailed records of any information or evidence related to suspected elder financial exploitation
  • Contact Adult Protective Services (APS)
  • Consult with law enforcement if you suspect criminal activity
  • Speak with an attorney who specializes in elder law to understand your legal options
  • If you believe financial exploitation is ongoing, consider freezing your loved one’s accounts
  • Inform the relevant financial institutions of your concerns
  • If someone close to your loved one is abusing them financially, check for other signs of abuse (e.g., emotional, physical)
  • Remain supportive and stay involved
  • Take steps to avoid future exploitation

It’s an unfortunate fact that dishonest people know they can take advantage of our aging population. However, most of their power is contingent on the idea that senior citizens are alone. One of the most powerful tools we have is ensuring that this isn’t the case. Stay close to your loved ones, and let them know they can openly communicate with you without fear of anger.
And if they fall victim to financial exploitation, act quickly to help them recover.

Getting Started: Protecting Your Elder Loved One

There are many ways to protect your loved one from elder financial exploitation. To start, consider reviewing free elder law resources that are available online. The World Wide Web is packed with invaluable information that can help you safeguard the senior citizens in your life. However, this won’t always be enough. Even if you devote all your time to protecting your loved one, financial loss can still occur.

This is why speaking with an elder law attorney may be in your best interest. These experienced legal professionals can review your options for combatting the financial exploitation of elderly relatives. At Estate Planning & Elder Law Services, P.C., our team of dedicated lawyers is committed to protecting what the elderly individuals in your life have worked so hard to accomplish and accrue.
Contact us at (888) 752-6050 to schedule your free consultation.

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