Our population is aging. As our families grow older it our lives get busier. Often we are working full time with kids in school and trying to care for our aging parents. This job gets tougher if we live across town or across the state.
Who scams the elderly?
Because we cannot watch our parent’s every move, they become more and more vulnerable to unsavory scammers. These scammers can be on the computer, phone, door-to-door sales people or even people who work in the financial industry. For example, if someone sells an 85-year-old a policy that does not mature for 25 years, this can be considered fraud and elderly financial abuse.
The saddest and more emotionally-wrenching type of elderly financial abuse is when a family member, caregiver or trusted friend is the perpetrator. Knowing that our elderly loved ones are at risk is the first step to preventing elderly financial abuse. The second step is recognizing the signs.
Why the elderly are targets
The elder are targets of financial abuse for three main reasons:
- People over 50 in the United States control 70% of the wealth
- Over 24% of people over 80 have some form of dementia according to the National Institute on Aging
- Many older people live somewhat isolated lives and do not have constant contact with trusted family members or advocates. This allows them to be taken advantage of, even by other family members who have gambling or substance abuse issues.
What to look for
The last thing we want for our parents or elders is for them to be taken advantage of or abused. If you are concerned for your elderly loved on watch for these signs:
- Missing or “loaned out” property: Expensive jewelry, art, or even a car.
- Signatures that look odd
- Unexplained withdrawals
- A sudden new best friend or sweetheart
- Important financial information that is no longer coming to the address of your elderly loved one
Look for patterns. Also, if you are able keep a log of who is “visiting” your elderly loved one.
If you suspect that your parent or elderly loved one is struggling with mental or cognition issues it is best to set up an appointment with a doctor or specialist. Dementia is a term used to describe a variety of diseases and conditions that affect the nerve cells in the brain. Alzheimer’s disease is one form of dementia.