Family caregivers perform all kinds of duties in the care of their aging relatives.
They organize medications, make medical appointments, prepare meals, and manage their health conditions. In short, they protect their loved ones from harm. Another way that some caregivers protect their older family members is by keeping them from being financially abused.
Financial abuse occurs when other people gain access to the senior’s financial resources and use them for their own gain. Financial abusers can be strangers, friends, or even family members. Sadly, 1 in 20 older adults say they have been the victims of financial abuse.
Signs of Financial Abuse
One sign that your aging relative may be experiencing financial abuse is that they suddenly seem to be unaware of their financial situation or have become disengaged from their finances. For example, you might ask them about some money that was withdrawn from their account and they have no idea what you’re talking about. While it’s possible that a situation like this signals a cognitive issue, it may also suggest that someone has gained access to their account.
Another sign of financial abuse can be numerous bills for home repairs. Older adults are susceptible to scams related to home repairs because of physical frailty. Scammers recognize that they aren’t able to take on such projects anymore, so they suggest repairs that may not even be needed.
Family members of older adults sometimes take advantage of them and gain access to their finances. Watch for family members whose lifestyle’s change or who suddenly seem to have more money than they once did, but with no explanation for the financial gain.
Preventing Financial Abuse
The best way to deal with financial abuse is to prevent it from ever happening. Some steps caregivers can take to protect their older family members are:
-Encourage and assist older adults to take care of legal matters like setting up power of attorney while they still have all their mental faculties about them.
Keep in touch with your aging relative. You’ll be more likely to spot financial abuse if you know what is going on in their life.
Talk to the senior’s financial institutions about getting set up as a “trusted contact,” which will allow you to keep an eye on their accounts.
Help the older adult to sign up for a service that monitors their accounts for unusual activity.
Remind your loved one not to sign any documents unless they understand them.
-Keeping an eye on the finances of an older adult now can keep caregivers from later having to rectify the situation when the senior has been the victim of abuse. Sorting out the problem can be much more difficult than preventing it.