Did you know that senior citizens control more than 70 percent of the wealth in America? Combine this with the fact that, as we age, there’s an increased chance that we’ll suffer from dementia or other forms of mental decline, and it becomes obvious why the financial abuse of the elderly is such a problem.
The financial elder abuse can take a number of forms. It can be simple and straightforward such as a caregiver taking a ring from a jewelry box or forging a check. It can involve the transfer of property against an elder’s will. It can also take the form of a convoluted scheme to defraud an elderly person of large sums of money.
The abuse can be committed by any number of people, although those closest to the victim are most often the perpetrators. Spouses, children, close friends, and paid caregivers have all been known to take advantage of the elderly for their own financial gain. On the other hand, there are the infamous scams organized by telemarketers and service providers who intentionally take advantage of the elderly.
How can you identify financial elder abuse? Here are a few common signs:
- Unpaid bills;
- Unexplained bank withdrawals or transfers;
- Sudden reluctance to discuss routine financial matters;
- A caregiver who seems preoccupied with the elder’s financial matters;
- A caregiver who seems to dominate the elder – speaking for him or her, always at the elder’s side;
- An elder who suddenly becomes withdrawn or much less sociable.
The best cure for any kind of abuse is prevention. That’s why it’s essential that elderly loved ones aren’t allowed to become withdrawn and isolated. If at all possible, an elderly person should have as many visitors as possible – family members and friends should visit frequently, and at different days and times.
Abuse thrives in situations where watchful eyes are not present. That’s why it’s important to know the warning signs of financial elder abuse, be familiar with your loved one’s caregivers, and watch for signs that something might be amiss.