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Know the risk factors for elder financial abuse

During the early years of your life, your mother and father protected you from the world's dangers. Now that they are elderly and you are their caregiver, it falls to you to protect them. Many people will experience this role reversal with their aging parents. Caregivers should know about the unique threats that senior citizens face that children and mid-life adults usually do not.

One thing that caregivers should be on guard against is financial abuse--that is, taking advantage of someone who is elderly for financial gain. Financial abuse is a threat that elderly adults are at particularly high risk for. There are a few important red flags for elder financial abuse, such as:

  • Ignorance of financial issues

A large amount has been withdrawn from their account, and they are not aware of it; their signature is on a check that they don't remember writing; there are several new purchases that they have no memory of making. Sometimes, senior citizens have lapses in memory or a decline of mental acuity. While this is fairly common in older adults, if a senior does not remember major recent financial decisions, it may be a sign of financial abuse.

  • Physical weakness

Elderly adults who have mobility issues often need to hire service providers to assist them. While the majority of home health professionals, contractors and other professionals are honest and hardworking, there are some exceptions who may see the chance to prey on someone vulnerable. This could involve theft of money or property, or charging extra for nonexistent services.

  • Isolation

Predators frequently home in on targets who are isolated and vulnerable. Seniors who do not have friends or family nearby to check in on them could be at risk. Keep an eye on any sudden friendships or new people in a senior's routine: If an elderly person is feeling lonely, a stranger may see an opportunity to insinuate themselves into their life and take advantage of them.

  • Odd family behavior

Sadly, the perpetrators of elder financial abuse are most likely to be adult children or spouses. Family members who take financial advantage of seniors may convince them to transfer funds into their accounts, make excessive withdrawals or even take money without their consent. It can be painful to consider that a relative may be doing this, but it is crucial to put a stop to their behavior.

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