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Elder abuse is a real problem within the US. Physical and mental abuse within care homes has been widely publicized in the past, but this isn’t the only type of abuse that older people face. Elderly people face abuse in their own homes by close relatives or friends, incoming carers and even from strangers on the door step. This is known as financial exploitation. Over 70% of the wealth in the US is owned by people over the age of 50, and this makes them prime targets for those struggling with cash and needing to do unethical things in order to get by. Here are three warning signs that an elder person has been financially exploited.
Unexplained Activity in an Elder Person’s Account or Missing Bank Statements
The most obvious way to notice financial exploitation of an elderly person is unusual or unexplained activity within their bank account. This could be large amounts of money seeming to ‘go missing’ or smaller activity over a long period of time where money is spent on out of character purchases or transferred to one specific bank account. The elder person may not be aware of this activity, as often those perpetrating the financial exploitation have changed where bank statements are sent or simply taken them before the elder person has noticed.
An Elder Person Appearing to Have a New ‘Best Friend’
This is a common method for those seeking to exploit an elderly person financially. They will befriend the elderly person, seeming to be helpful or polite and friendly. The person will then gain the trust of the elderly person in order to find out private information. The character of a ‘new best friend’ could be a variety of things such as a builder seeming to be helping the elderly person with basic household DIY, a carer helping with everyday tasks, or simply a friendly figure seeming to have the elderly persons’ best interests at heart.
Misunderstanding by the Elder Person of a Document They May Have Signed
Family members often apply to become power of attorney for their elderly relative meaning that they can make financial decisions for the elderly person without their knowledge or consent. While most people use this power correctly, it is an easy way to exploit an elder financially. Warning signs of this financial abuse will be the elder person misunderstanding the document that they have signed giving this power, and possibly showing a distrust in their family member who asked for the document.
If you think that an elderly person you know is being financially exploited it’s important to start taking the steps to stop this type of abuse. Contact a lawyer who can help with advice when prosecuting the perpetrators and getting justice for the elderly person involved. It can be difficult to spot when financial exploitation is taking place, and equally as difficult to stop, but by understanding the warning sides and getting the help of a lawyer, you should be able to make a difference.