It’s a sad story that plays out far too often these days. Someone takes advantage of a senior, draining bank accounts, spending the very money they offered to manage. Often, these cases of financial exploitation involve family members or caregivers.
Financial exploitation of seniors is a rising problem throughout the country and is a large focus of law enforcement. New Hampshire, with its growing senior population, will have a mounting problem, as 1 in 20 seniors report some sort of financial exploitation.
Signs of financial abuse
There are signs that may indicate a senior is being financially abused. If you’re a friend, relative or caregiver, watch for these signs:
- Changes in bank accounts. Maybe there are unusual withdrawals or someone new has been added to the account.
- Unpaid bills. When you see bills piling up, that could be a sign the money is going elsewhere.
- A new gatekeeper. If the caregiver is denying you access to the senior, something may be amiss.
- Change in the person. If their demeanor has changed, and he or she is acting afraid or looking unkempt, something is wrong.
- Financial confusion. If they’re confused about recent transactions, you may want to investigate further.
Sadly, the most common abusers of elders are trusted persons, such as family, friends and caregivers. They can abuse the trust and take control of the finances, diverting money and assets to themselves.
Financial abuse prevention
There are ways to prevent the financial abuse of seniors. Involving a professional to make sure your loved one gets the best advice is a great way to start. Other suggestions include:
- Discuss finances. Have the senior talk finances with family, an attorney and a financial planner.
- Be careful. Don’t talk finances with someone new over the phone or internet.
- Use checks and credit cards. A paper trail is a good thing.
- Get a second opinion. If someone is asking for money, account information or to be given the power of attorney, discuss it first with a professional.