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Indicators of Potential Financial Elder Abuse

As our parents age, we often look to third parties or other family members to assist them in their financial management and daily care. Our parents can become susceptible to the suddenly attentive neighbor or "friend," or even a relative, taking an inappropriate interest in the elder's affairs. Sometimes, out of pride or shame, an elder will be reticent to admit to anyone that they may have made a mistake trusting someone they shouldn't have.

Unfortunately, our elders can easily become subject to financial abuse if they and their loved ones and advocates are not vigilant to watch for the indicators of possible abuse. The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse provides a good list of indicators, or signs, of possible abuse. As the organization points out, some of the indicators can be explained by other causes or factors and no single indicator can be taken as conclusive proof. Here are some of the signs to be aware of:

  • Unpaid bills, eviction notices, or notices to discontinue utilities
  • Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts that the older person cannot explain
  • Bank statements and canceled checks no longer come to the elder's home
  • New "best friends"
  • Legal documents, such as powers of attorney, which the older person didn't understand at the time he or she signed them
  • Unusual activity in the older person's bank accounts including large, unexplained withdrawals, frequent transfers between accounts, or ATM withdrawals
  • The care of the elder is not commensurate with the size of his/her estate
  • A caregiver expresses excessive interest in the amount of money being spent on the older person
  • Belongings or property are missing
  • Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents
  • Absence of documentation about financial arrangements
  • Implausible explanations given about the elderly person's finances by the elder or the caregiver
  • The elder is unaware of or does not understand financial arrangements that have been made for him or her

see more at http://www. preventelderabuse.org/elderabuse/fin_abuse.html

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