Financial abuse is one of the fastest growing crimes around the world, largely because the problem of isolation felt by many older people is also growing. Tracking the financial well-being of an elderly person can often be difficult for one person to do, instead, it is recommended by many government and law enforcement agencies that a group of people be placed in charge of the financial dealings of an elder.
For most elderly people problems controlling their finances do not occur until they begin to lose a grip on their mental alertness, which often occurs with dementia and personal problems becoming a problem as humans age. For many elderly people one member of a marriage is often placed in charge of the day to day financial dealings of the couple, if the person controlling the finances dies or is incapacitated their spouse may feel isolated and in need of help.
Abuse often occurs when people feel isolated and determine they should look for outside assistance in their financial dealings. When looking for help, the elderly person may be shocked at those who will abuse them financially, with many relatives and long time friends taking the opportunity to transfer property and cash to themselves without the knowledge of the elderly person. When the elderly person begins to realize the extent of financial abuse the problem of shame and guilt that they have been cheated can interfere with any investigation of revealing of the extent of their problems.
There are a number of signs that can be spotted, which can reveal an elderly person is suffering abuse with their finances. In many cases an elderly person does not live to a standard that would be expected with the finances they should have available, another problem often seen is the presence of an outside caregiver whenever family members and friends visit and try to discuss finances. In many cases, a person taking advantage of an elderly person will have them sign over property and sign checks to cash, these can be the first signs spotted by family members who do not realize an elderly person is being abused.
There are ways to care for the elders’ financial well-being, which can include limiting the powers given to any person awarded power of attorney over the elderly persons financial affairs. Major decisions should be made by a group of people to ensure no one person can make all decisions about the ownership of property and the content of a mentally incapable elderly person. Other options include ensuring all social security checks are paid into the bank account of the elderly person by direct deposit and bills are paid using an auto pay feature.
The best option for an elderly person and their family to reduce the chances of financial fraud taking place is to reduce the amount of isolation felt by the elder. When many people are regularly involved in the life of an elderly person it is more difficult for a caregiver to commit financial abuse.