We’ve all seen the articles and statistics, Elder Abuse is on the rise in America. Elder abuse is not limited to any income bracket or gender. It can happen to anyone and the best way to avoid it is to be informed. If you are an older American you need to educate yourself, if you are the adult child of older parents they need your support and vigilance.
Elder abuse comes in many forms but a broad definition involves the improper use of funds, property or assets belonging to someone over the age of 60. The most common types include credit card fraud, annuity scams, identity theft, abuse of powers of attorney, reverse mortgage scams, telephone and internet phishing scams and the use of undue influence by trusted individuals to swindle seniors out of their property and money.
In the Costco Connection web & print publication this month David Horowitz and his daughter Amanda Horowitz have penned an article on this timely subject. Amanda is the CEO of Fight Back, a consumer advocacy institution started by her father. The article is well worth your time and some of the finer points are listed below. This is not a new subject to our blog and most of these points have been voiced in other posts but we are convinced it is impossible to talk about this subject too much.
Unreported Cases: Elder abuse often goes unreported because of embarrassment or fear that the victim will lose autonomy. The victims may even choose not to report the abuse because they want to protect the guilty party which is often a family member.
Safeguarding a Loved One: In the words of David Horowitz, “Since elder financial abuse is correlated highly with isolation one way you can prevent the possibility of it happening is to make sure an elderly relative has regular social interactions and outings.” We should also point out that is a caregiver is a paid relative their needs to be a Caregiver’s Agreement in place. This legal contract needs to be as detailed as possible delineating remuneration, duties, hours and spending limits.
Spotting the Signs:
- Changes in spending patterns
- Helping “friends” with their finances
- Tips or extra payments to caregivers or family
- Persons newly added as signees on accounts
- Unexplained changes in professional advisors such as bankers, attorneys or accountants
- Checks made out to “Cash”
- Unexplained disappearance of valuables, cash, medications or personal items
- Large and/or unexplained transfers between accounts
- Unexplained changes to a will or power of attorney
- A caregiver, friend or relative that keeps trying to isolate the senior from others
Who Can Help?
- The National Center on Elder Abuse www.ncea.aoa.gov
- The National Adult Protective Services Association www.napsa-now.org
- Idaho Adult Protective Services http://www.idahoaging.com/protection/index.html
- The National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys www.naela.org
At Idaho Estate Planning, we understand the challenges faced by elder Americans and their families. Mark Wight is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Academy of VA Pension Planners. We have resources throughout the Treasure Valley, experts in the field of Elder Care & Planning. We have the experience and expertise to help you maintain your options and protect yourself as well as your loved ones now and into the future. Remember, good planning is no accident.