Senior Living Advice: Understanding, Controlling Elder Financial Abuse
By BETH DOW, Home Helpers of GA & AL
Since 2006, June has been recognized as Elder Abuse Awareness Month.
One of the most common forms of Elder Abuse is financial abuse. Unfortunately, it is most often committed by people who are the closest to the senior. Family, extended family or a close caretaker commit 62 percent of financial abuse. The people the senior trusts the most – the people no one would expect would harm the senior – are exactly the people doing the harm.
Most people who commit elder financial abuse don’t believe they are doing anything criminal. Many report being entitled to the finances. They feel they are due payment for the care or attention they are giving or that they should be compensated for shortcomings they believe were committed in the past. Or they rationalize that they “might as well” use the money because the senior “doesn’t need it.”
There is no right reason to use or withhold another person’s financial assets without their knowledge. And it is a crime.
There are risk factors that someone may be prime to become a victim of financial abuse.
1. A recent stressful event, such as the death of a spouse.
2. Moving or downsizing.
3. A Dementia diagnosis.
4. The need for a caregiver.
There are also warning signs. The lack of basic needs being met; unexplained financial problems, such as being overdrawn at the bank or bills that have gone unpaid; changes in their behavior; and being isolated.
As with many of today’s issues, the best way to combat elder financial abuse is through communication and involvement. While many people, especially the older generation, believe firmly that their finances are no one’s business, this secrecy can contribute to the vulnerability of the person. The more people who can see the financial workings of a senior, the less chances for financial abuse to occur.
There are many products available to help families keep better control of their loved one’s finances. One that I really like is myFloc™. It is listed as an AARP Innovation Labs Portfolio Company.
MyFloc™ is an expense management and payment solution that helps families maintain control and protect their senior’s money. It allows for control, clarity and communication in spending by the senior and for the senior. If your senior has numerous people paying bills or running errands for them, or if they are in the early stages of Dementia where spending can get out of hand, this is a great way to protect them. You can find out more by visiting: myfloc.com.
If you suspect someone may be the victim of any type of abuse or neglect, remember it is not your responsibility to prove the abuse or neglect has occurred. Trust your gut. If you think something is going on, report it to your local police department or report it to adult protective services. All reports can be anonymous.
Beth Dow is a Dementia and Alzheimer’s Educator, CAEd and Geriatric Care Manager. She is also the owner of Home Helpers of GA & AL in Newnan. Readers can contact her by email at [email protected].