Be Alert For Signs Of Elder Financial Abuse.

Posted by Accutech on November 26, 2012 9:29 am

As we continue to highlight Alzheimer’s Awareness Month, as well as the start of the holiday season, we’d like to highlight some issues that affect the elderly and their families that go beyond healthcare.

According to a study by MetLife elder financial abuse costs older Americans almost $3 billion dollars a year and is on the rise. Half of the abuse is perpetuated by strangers but, sadly, up to 34% is by family and friends. It's especially frequent during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas when we are all distracted by the festivities.

Prevention of elder financial abuse depends on family and other caregivers.

Most victims were between 80 and 89 years old who lived alone and required assistance for healthcare and home maintenance and women were nearly twice as likely as men to fall prey to abuse.

It’s believed that the number of victims is under-reported due to embarrassment felt by victims who are reluctant to admit they were abused. For people who have lived their entire lives as workers, family leaders or even community leaders this can be a devastating realization that they were taken advantage of.

Caregivers and health care professionals are able to detect and report suspected abuse. The non-profit Investor Protection Trust (ITP) says that the growing problem of elder financial abuse will require cooperative efforts between them and authorities as well as other organizations.

The Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation (EIFFE) prevention program was created to help identify those older Americans who suffer from impaired mental capacity that makes them vulnerable to predators. It has trained more than 3,000 health care professionals to aid in prevention efforts.

Other recommendations for the elderly and their families to avoid financial tragedy are:

  • Put financial affairs in order.  Sooner is better than later to deter predatory family members who might take advantage of diminished capacity.
  • Don’t make any financial decisions without consulting at least one trustworthy person.
  • Don’t make any decisions over the phone with anyone you don’t know. Signs of trouble are pressure to make a decision, a request for personal identifying information or simply something that’s too good to be true. Ask for documentation to be sent to the home to confirm validity.
  • If someone wants to verify personal information ask them to tell you what information they have rather than volunteer it.
  • Keep a regular schedule with physicians, dentists or other health care professionals. They can often spot signs of abuse.
  • Those with substance abuse problems are more likely to be abusers.
  • Stay visible and connected with family and friends. This is good both for well-being but also those who are isolated are more likely to become victims.
  • Keep valuables in a secure place. Consider a safety deposit box for family jewelry, important documents or other valuables. This protects against service people or less than savory family or friends who may look for these items in the home.
  • Never allow anyone into the home without another person present even if a neighbor can just stop by to keep an eye on things.
  • Only choose caregivers from a reputable agency or organization.

The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (NCPEA) has more information about how to recognize and prevent elder financial abuse.

Accutech is a leading provider of wander management systems and we are dedicated to the protection of family and friends who can no longer look after themselves. The ResidentGuard system is easy to manage and prevents wandering from residential care facilities, nursing home or even the family home. We hope you find these tips helpful and that they help to ensure that your loved ones are always protected.

Topics: News