ElderCare Locator recently put out a helpful new guide that delves into an issue that the attorneys at our firm often discuss: senior financial exploitation. This issue has been gaining more and more attention over the past few years, which is a welcome change. However, there is still a long way to go before no senior suffers as a result of being swindled or tricked. The first step in making a real dent on the problem is education, as more and more community members should understand the warning signs and know what to do when exploitation is identified.
That is what the new guide comes is. You can download your own copy of the brief brochure here.
Not a Minor Problem
The guide notes that the most reliable estimates suggest that about 5 million seniors are harmed in this way each and every year. This is not a limited problem but a widespread issue. In fact, even though awareness of the problem is growing–the actual number of affected seniors may still be rising. With more sophisticated tools to defraud and confusion over certain financial matters, seniors remain easy targets for financial criminals. According to some reports, upwards of $3 billion are taken by scammers of seniors each and every year. Considering the tight budgets with which many seniors live, even theft of small amounts of money can have very serious effects on their lives. This is not just about money, but ensuring that the senior abuse does not result is real harm to our elderly friends and family member’s ability to live their golden years in comfort.
Who Is Most At Risk
Financial exploitation can happen to anyone–not just seniors. However, because of their unique situation, older community members are prime targets. Certain seniors may actually be far more likely to be hurt in this way. Elderly community members most at risk include:
-Those who have just lost a spouse who handled money matter. Many seniors are thrown into unfamiliar territory when they lose a loved one who previously dealt with finances. Beyond the grief and sadness, these seniors are forced to learn quickly about the best way to protect themselves from exploitation.
– Seniors who live alone, without a large groups of family members or elder care advisors. Many older residents live very isolated lives and may go months or even years without others taking a look at their financial books. It is usually only when tragedy strikes that anyone ever learns of the problem .
-Seniors in long-term care settings, like a nursing home. There are far too many cases of residents having money stolen by those charged with providing support in these settings. In addition, however, even those outside the setting (including friends and family) sometimes view the situation as opportunity to loot the senior’s accounts or property.
There is no easy way to prevent all cases of exploitation. However, one key theme is proper outside observation and support. Those who are most likely to be harmed are those who do not have support from outsiders who check on the situation. Yet, the seniors who lack that third-party support now are the least likely to ask for help if they need it. That means that it is important for others to be proactive–do not ignore your suspicions.
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