Keeping the Elderly SafeChristopher Briggs, RRC®
Are you concerned about elderly parents or relatives? A recent CBC news report provided a disturbing account of an elderly man who fell prey to an online dating scam. Over an eight-month period, he communicated with someone posing as his girlfriend and lost over $700,000 by wiring funds overseas.1
As it turns out, stories of financial abuse of the elderly aren’t as uncommon as we think. It doesn’t always happen from afar and can occur at home to acquaintances or friends.
Watch for these Warning Signs
- Unusual financial activity — Unexplained account activity, including withdrawals or credit card charges, may indicate financial abuse.
- Missing valuables — Lost items may indicate abuse, but this can easily be dismissed if a person suffers from cognition problems. Helping to locate missing valuables can determine if the issue is simply confusion, or if it signals a larger problem like abuse.
- Appearance of a new friend — A new companion may be cause for concern if warning signs are present, such as unusual financial activity or missing personal effects.
- Changes to important legal documents — Unexplained changes to important documents, such as a will or power of attorney documents, may indicate that an individual is being coerced.
While there are often signs, elder abuse may be hard to uncover and can continue for long periods of time. Victims may become secretive because they feel ashamed or fear retaliation.
Take Steps to Prevent Abuse
One way to help prevent abuse is to take steps in advance to protect the vulnerable:
- Prevent isolation — Form a wide support network of family, friends and professional advisors to help identify problems and intervene where necessary. Widening an elderly person’s network can provide support from trustworthy sources.
- Check in — Call and visit as often as possible or find a trusted confidante to check in. This can identify warning signs that indicate abuse. Listen closely when the elderly person shares information. Ask questions and never dismiss potential red flags.
- Offer support — Offer simple support to review finances, such as scanning of bank or credit card statements to make sure things are in order. Or, provide support for larger projects, helping to update financial documents or conduct a credit check.
- Put safeguards in place — Plan ahead and grant a power of attorney to a trusted individual. Consider appointing a professional (such as a trust company) to work alongside a family member to help provide a safeguard.
At Precision Wealth, we work to protect your assets with a financial plan, build a plan for retirement, and secure an estate plan for the appropriate disbursement of assets. Contact our Advisors to ask about these services—we are here to help.