Thursday, July 4, 2013

Elders are Particularly Vulnerable to Financial Exploitation

Leadership Saratoga spearheaded a community outreach project for Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services  so we could to better understand elder abuse in Saratoga County. They found that financial abuse was one of the most frequent forms of elder abuse.Often the person exploiting the elder is a family member whom they rely on for support. On the positive side the Leadership Saratoga team also found that banking institutions routinely train their employees to be on the lookout for financial exploitation of elders.

The team  convened a forum of community leaders and professionals concerned with elder abuse to brainstorm what we can do to prevent, identify and reduce elder abuse. One suggestion was to train a variety of professionasl to be on the lookout for all forms of exploitation of elders. These creative professionals urged us to think outside the box and train professionals to look beyond the scope of their daily work to identify abuse. Their wise words rang true today when I read an article identifying doctors as key links in identifying elder abuse.  An elder may see his/her doctor more  often than any other professional. The doctor may also know more about  their stressors, support systems, and resources than anyone. In fact the survey cited in the article notes that more than 1 in 5 doctors are aware their elderly patients are victims of  financial exploitation.

The vast majority of these doctors reasoned that seniors are particularly vulnerable to abuse due to cognitive   impairments. We sometimes view elders as too trusting,,, even careless or gullible with regard to people. Actually changes in their brain can affect  their ability to accurately judge how trustworthy someone is. Studies show that even healthy seniors with no obvious cognitive difficulties may have difficulty making decisions...and this can increase their vulnerability to fraud and financial exploitation.

Gobankingrates.com gives the following tips for protecting loved ones from elder abuse: Visit their site to learn more about elder abuse.
If you are concerned about your elderly loved one, or think you may be the victim of elder abuse, there are a number of signs you can look for to make your confirmation:
  • Excessive withdrawals from a bank account
  • Items or cash missing from the senior’s household
  • Changes to power of attorney, wills, titles or insurance policies
  • Names added to signature cards
  • Unpaid bills despite a significant cash flow
  • Financial activity that couldn’t be completed by the senior citizen
  • Unnecessary services or goods

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