Trust. Compassion. Community.
Caring for our elderly population is a growing challenge impacting as many as 5 million people and costing them between $2.9 billion and $36.5 billion dollars. Additionally those that are abused have a much higher chance of passing away early. The National Center on Elder Abuse defines Elder Abuse as “... the mistreatment or harming of an older person. It can include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, along with neglect and financial exploitation.” Financial exploitation can take the form of abuse by people of trust including family members.
Five Ways to Prevent Financial Exploitation:
- Hold regular financial meetings – These meetings start with a conversation that can be all encompassing. The key is to open the door to a conversation in areas where your loved ones could be targeted. According to the Department of Financial Services, people who talk about their finances to third party resources like friends, family and financial professionals feel better about preventing elder abuse than those who don’t.
- Have several people involved with each person having specific roles – Someone could monitor bills, another checking/saving, credit cards, investments, prescriptions, etc. with all parties working together in family meetings. This accomplishes two things: first the ongoing monitoring helps identify changes in accounts and behavior, it also helps avoid one person being in charge and potentially taking advantage of a family member.
- Be aware of scams – As the population of the world ages, abuse of our elders is a growing problem and scammers are always coming up with new ways to prey on people. Keeping up to date and discussing them in the regular meetings will help you protect those you love.
- Keep proper documents – Ensuring each account has things like the proper power of attorney with the appropriate responsible party and updated estate plan help ensure the assets are both managed properly and handled according to the loved ones wishes and are big steps to protecting against abuse.
- Simplify – The fewer moving parts the easier it is to manage, monitor, and identify potential abuse.