Identifying elder financial abuse early can minimize the damage.
The majority of people do not want to see any harm come to their loved ones.
This is why parents monitor the phones and computers of their children and take them to the doctor when they show signs of illness.
As parents age, the adult children may find themselves taking on a more protective role for their own mothers and fathers.
According to a recent AARP Magazine article titled “Spot the Red Flats of Elder Financial Abuse,” recognizing signs of elder financial abuse and elder abuse can help individuals guard their loved ones against those looking to harm them.
What are common red flags?
If your parents are relatively frugal, then large expenses or significant withdrawals may be a cause for alarm.
When you see evidence of these on bank or credit card statements, you should take steps to close the card or freeze the account immediately.
This is especially true if your parent or grandparent has no recollection of the purchase or withdraw.
However, unless you have access to the financial records of your senior loved one you will need to discuss options that allow you to help monitor finances and record keeping to defend against elder financial abuse.
Having friends is not a bad thing.
In fact, relationships are important to the well-being of people at any age.
Unfortunately, most reported cases of elder financial abuse involve perpetrators who are family, neighbors, or those considered to be friends.
This does not mean everyone is out to do your loved one harm.
Instead, you should be on the lookout for money disappearing from accounts or for requests for funds.
Seniors can be especially vulnerable when they are isolated.
If you notice someone is seeking to distance your loved one from family and also to encourage dependence, these could be signs of ill intent.
Cognitive decline and mismanagement of money.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases can be slow in progressing.
For this reason, these can go unnoticed or undiagnosed for while.
Because those experiencing cognitive decline are more susceptible to persuasion and elder financial abuse, your loved one may fall victim to scam calls or even to manipulation by those who are in their physical presence.
They may be persuaded to give financial authority to someone who is self-serving.
Your parent or grandparent may give private information like account names and passwords or Social Security numbers to others.
One way to prevent this is to have at least one trusted family member named on accounts to receive notifications when changes are made.
Frailty or lack of mobility.
Those with physical or mental impairments are more dependent on others.
They may become targets of able-bodied individuals who offer help but are focused on a scam.
To minimize the need for trips to financial institutions or other areas where their money can be vulnerable to scammers, consider helping your loved one set up automatic billing for cellphones, rent, utilities, and other payments.
Doing so can make the transactions more secure.
Because there are so many ways seniors can be scammed out of cash, jewelry, or credit card information, their loved ones need to be diligent.
Being present and involved in the lives of your senior loved ones can deter elder financial abuse or help catch it early.
Reference: AARP Magazine (February 28, 2022) “Spot the Red Flats of Elder Financial Abuse”