According to American Family Physician, each year millions of senior Americans 65 and older are exploited or financially injured by someone they depend on for protection and care. And the problem is rising. The American Psychological Association (APA) estimates that for each case of senior abuse reported, approximately 23 cases go unreported. A Met Life study reveals that 51% of all financial abuse is perpetrated by strangers. Sadly, another 34% is perpetuated by family and friends of the victim.
Senior Abuse Can Happen to Anyone
These statistics paint a bleak picture. APA studies project that some $36.5 billion dollars are lost each year to senior abuse. This problem spans every ethnicity, community, and economic group across the nation. Older men and women with mental health concerns such as Alzheimer’s and dementia are the most at risk.
What can be done to stop the abuse? The best way is prevention. If you have a parent or loved one who is getting on in years, you can help them avoid fraud, theft, and scammers by staying vigilant. Regularly ask questions about finances, housing, aging, and health to maintain awareness of their needs. You should also frequently discuss common financial scams and how to protect against them.
Creating a Plan to Prevent Senior Abuse
If you note that your loved one has started to lose executive processing abilities and is in cognitive decline, create a plan. This plan should focus on helping them manage their finances and obtain account information. Simplify as much as possible. Obtain details of your loved one’s trusted advisors, attorneys, accountants, brokers, etc.
You should also organize and protect their important life documents for reference. This includes wills, trusts, passwords, financial statements, healthcare information, and insurance policies. Consider identity theft protection or financial account monitoring as well.
Remember, vigilance is essential. It’s easy to become casual in your efforts to prevent financial abuse of your parent or loved one. Just remember, your plans to protect them should lead with your attentiveness in helping them avoid scam or loss in the first place.
This information is intended to inform the public at large about this important issue. It is not intended to serve as legal or medical advice.