As the population of the United States ages, we must all become more aware of Elder
Exploitation. The US Department of Justice estimates that exploitation of the elderly is a $60 Billion dollar enterprise. Unfortunately, primary “exploiters” are oftentimes family members or close friends, which makes the detection of criminal activity challenging. Victims age commonly has them facing symptoms of dementia or suffering from physical ailments, both of which can cause the victim unable to report fraud. Threats are another common precursor to financial elder abuse; “if you report us… we will take your vehicle, put you in a nursing home, or deny you the opportunity to see your grandchildren.” There are many things that can be done to reduce the likelihood of exploitation of our elders. Following are a few highlights:
Begin the awareness process in their 60’s not the 80’s when it is often too late.
Be certain there is more than one person with a power-of-attorney.
Set withdrawal limits on all their financial accounts, including credit cards.
Request their bank and credit card statements be sent to more than the primary caregiver.
Visit the elderly relative randomly and unannounced.
Freeze their credit to prevent accounts from being established.
If you suspect questionable activity, hire an investigative professional to conduct surveillance or inspections.
Even if all the “right “steps are taken, elder abuse is still possible. It is important to look for the signs and have open dialogue with the elderly to ensure they are not afraid or withdrawn in any situation, not just those related to finances.
Remember an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!!