Mind Your Body TV Episode 38 with Barbara Meltzer.
It can start so innocently. A caregiver—a relative or paid employee—has access to a senior’s checkbook or other financial resources. As statistics prove, temptation is just too powerful and soon, financial abuse is underway, snowballing down the hill as it becomes an avalanche. It’s so important to know how to identify elder financial abuse.
As our newest video proves once again, your intuition is a powerful weapon. If you suspect that something “fishy” is going on, it probably is. Perhaps one of your siblings is dipping into the monetary pond, or if it’s an employee, you notice Mom’s nice jewelry is gone, or that there’s been a boatload of withdrawals from the local ATM or a rash of credit card charges.
When an elder’s cognition is compromised, the field is even riper for picking.
Spot elder financial abuse
1) If one family member is taking care of finances for the senior, perhaps all of you will want to “double-check” to ensure all is well. Volunteer to “help provide back-up.” Someone does need to monitor finances monthly.
2) Any decision that needs to be made in a hurry is suspect: Nothing’s that big of a rush.
3) Red flag any other changes in the elder’s usual banking habits, changes in a will or other main financial documents, or transfer of assets to someone else.
4) Put Mom’s or Dad’s numbers on the “Do Not Call” Registry. That can stave off phone scams. Email scams are quite another thing, so monitor your parents’ emails, too.
5) Make sure you know your local Adult Protective Services office. Here’s a Mind Your Body video with good information from our Orange County, Calif. expert—the message is applicable anywhere.
Elder financial abuse statistics
Last summer MetLife reported this about elder financial abuse:
- It was estimated to be just under $3 billion in the U.S.
- Women were nearly twice as likely to be victims.
- Most victims were between the ages of 80 and 89, lived alone, and needed help with either health care or home maintenance.
- Nearly 60 percent of perpetrators were males.
I hope you enjoy and learn from another chat with Barbara Meltzer, a Los Angeles-based public relations and marketing professional, and an advocate for aging issues. Barbara helped identify elder financial abuse being committed against a neighbor. Don’t be afraid to get involved.