Spend Time during the Holidays Discussing Strategies to Address Financial Exploitation With Older Family Members
As financial exploitation targeting older adults continues to become more prevalent in the United States, the Area Agency on Aging of Southwestern Illinois joined a nationwide campaign to encourage older adults and their families to address the issue and to get informed about the warning signs and resources available to help prevent abuse. Research shows that as many as 5 million older adults are victims of elder abuse each year and financial exploitation costs seniors an estimated $3 billion annually.
The Area Agency on Aging is encouraging older adults, caregivers and their families to use their time together this holiday season to discuss and get informed about strategies to prevent financial exploitation by encouraging families to take steps to prevent financial exploitation this holiday season.
The holiday season is an ideal time for families to get together and discuss issues with their older family members. The Area Agency on Aging strongly encourages all families to take some time to learn about the warning signs so that they can ask the right questions and take the right precautions to ensure that the finances of older adult family members are safe.
There are several signs of financial exploitation for families to look out for, including financial activity that is inconsistent with an older adults past financial history; confusion about recent financial arrangements; changes to key documents that have not been authorized; a caregiver or beneficiary who refuses to use designated funds for necessary care and treatment of an older adult; and an older adult who feels threatened by a caregiver or another individual who is seeking to control their finances.
Families that are concerned about financial exploitation should report the issue to state agencies that deal with protecting the safety and well-being of older adults. The campaign, which encourages older adults and their families to plan and be cautious, released tips to help prevent financial exploitation, some of which include:
· Get an estate plan in place. Talk with an attorney about creating a durable power of attorney for asset management; a living will; a revocable, or living, trust; and health care advance directives.
· Learn how to avoid fraud and scams at www.stopfraud.gov/protect.html.
· Consult with a trusted person before making any large purchases or investments.
· Do not provide personal information (i.e. Social Security number, credit card, ATM PIN number) over the phone unless you placed the call and know with whom you are speaking.
- If you hire someone to help you in your home, ensure that they have been properly screened with criminal background checks completed. Ask for certifications when appropriate.