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10 Tips to Prevent Senior Financial Abuse

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preventing-financial-abuseAccording to experts like Forbes, one of the biggest forms of abuse that elder members of our society are experiencing these days isn't necessarily physical in nature. Forbes recently reported that a new study revealed that elderly people are swindled to the tune of over $36 billion dollars on an annual basis—more than 12 times what researchers previously thought. If you want to make sure that your elderly parent is being well taken care of all throughout their senior life, there are a few key things that you need to consider regarding how their finances are handled.

1. Watch Out For Scams

According to the New York Times, financial scams that target the elderly are getting more and more frequent with each passing year. As the elderly population in the United States continues to grow, it becomes important for younger people to take care of their elderly parents and help watch out for people with malicious intentions posing as tax professionals, financial consultants and in other roles.

2. Be Wary of Criminal Caregivers

One of the most common types of scams targeting seniors are senior life care professionals, like the type of people you may hire to take care of mom and dad so that they can stay in their home. Always vet these people very carefully and only do business with respected agencies to help avoid these types of issues.

3. Look out for Digital Scams

Elderly people are more likely to use a computer to check e-mail or visit websites now than they have ever been. Unfortunately, this means that the rate at which they're falling for digital scams is only increasing. Pay close attention to your elderly parent's Internet habits and make sure that they aren't giving out sensitive information online.

4. Open a Discussion

Forbes indicated that one of the reasons people commonly fall victim to these types of scams is because they feel uncomfortable talking about their financial situation with their children. Always be sure to cultivate an environment of open, honest financial talk with your elderly parent so that you always know what is going on.

5. Always Report Abuse

Starting in 2014, the Administration for Community Living created a national adult protective services data system to help track, analyze and study issues of financial abuse among seniors. Always make sure that you're reporting any suspicious activities to the proper authorities to help prevent others from falling victim to scams in the future.

6. Be Mindful of the Dementia and Alzheimer's Effect

The New York Times indicated that as dementia and Alzheimer's becomes more prominent among seniors, it becomes increasingly difficult for those individuals to identify the types of financial fraud that is prevalent in today's modern society. If your loved one has been diagnosed with one of these types of conditions, you need to pay extra special attention to their finances.

7. Limit Access

Dangers don't just come from outside the home—friends and family members can steal from an elderly loved one, too. As a result, make sure that very few people (and ideally a single, trusted person) have access to an elderly family member's bank or investment accounts and other financial information.

8. Have Checks and Balances in Place

In continuing the theme of limiting access, always make sure that family members are watching out for one another as they themselves watch out for an elderly person's finances. Make sure that there is some level of accountability, especially in a situation where multiple siblings may be taking care of mom and dad.

9. Watch Out for Abrupt Changes

If you suddenly find that very fast changes are being made to something like an insurance policy or a bank account, this may be an early warning sign that fraud is taking place. Always pay close attention to an elderly parent's day to day financial situation to avoid abuse.

10. Utilize All Available Resources

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, also called the CFPB, often issues reports and guides to help caregivers as they themselves help seniors through their elderly years. They contain tips to protect people both physically and financially wherever they may be living. Always make sure that you're utilizing all available resources and that you're up to date on the latest threats and dangers for the best results moving forward.

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Bryan Reynolds
May 22, 2015
Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

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