Earlier this week we shared information on a new senior financial exploitation guide that provides helpful information to both identify possible senior financial abuse and tips to act on suspicions. You can download a copy of the brochure here.
The informational piece includes some worthwhile advice not only about preventing abuse but identifying what to do if you suspect mistreatment.
What If You Find a Problem?
The first step is contacting local law enforcement officers. Never forget, financial abuse is an actual crime. All of us are affected when others are violated in their resources–and it is critical that those who violate the law in this way face actual sanctions. While there may be a tendency to sweep things under the rug or resolve the matter without going to the authorities, it is important to take a deep breathe and contact others. Nothing is gained from ignoring the issue or allowing the wrongdoer to get away. In fact, by doing so, the individual may decide to act again, harming others. We cannot begin to fix the problem unless those affected stand up and demand accountability.
Besides local police departments, there are other public agencies which exist to help in these situations. States have adult protective services groups and ombudsman entities which exist specifically to help all those in these very situations. Calling out financial abuse is often sensitive, particularly when it involves someone who is a friend or family member. Things are even worse when the senior is in some way dependent on that individual. Fortunately, these outside groups exist to provide the assistance needed so that seniors can hold the wrongdoer accountable while still receiving the care and support they may need to get by on a day-to-day basis.
Of course, ideally we would stop all abuse well before it occurred. The best way to do that is with planning. Some important prevention steps might include:
-Using a money manager. Having an extra pair of eyes on senior finances is the surest way to catch misconduct early and also to deter others from even trying to cause trouble. Professional money managers already exist, who are trained specifically in providing guidance and protection to seniors who may be susceptible to exploitation. Check out www.aarpmmp.org to learn more.
-Conduct estate planning. This is good advice for everyone, but particularly seniors. An estate plan includes many different components, from a will and/or trust to alternative decision-making documents like a power of attorney, living will, and health care directive.
-Try to remove yourself from certain situations where fraud can occur. This include putting your name on the Do not Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov), shredding papers with sensitive information, having outside individuals provide counsel with any large financial transactions, and performing background checks on anyone working inside the home.
The nursing home abuse attorneys are are committed to ensuring proper prevention, and, if necessary, accountability whenever seniors are unfairly victimized. That includes many different situations, from the development of pressure sores to outright theft of property. It is wrong in all cases, and the best way to ensure it doesn’t happen again is to demand redress.
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