Every year in America, elder financial abuse defrauds our senior citizens and families, stealing away hard-earned retirement income and decades of savings. Moreover, the economy suffers anywhere from $3 billion to $36 billion in annual losses from this form of financial exploitation. There's plenty more than money involved, though - the well-being of our elderly loved ones and neighbors is on the line.
In order to prevent elder financial abuse, we have to be especially watchful of vulnerabilities our elders might exhibit - features that bad actors take advantage of to perpetrate fraud. Here's a list of key vulnerabilities compiled by the magazine Financial Advisor. Someday they may help you identify when an elderly loved one, client, or friend needs a second opinion, and perhaps professional assistance, in managing their affairs. Take note of the following:
- Cognitive Decline: Inability to process simple concepts, can't understand basic financial transactions.
- Rash Decisions: Makes decisions inconsistent with long-term plans or committments.
- Mood Swings: Experiences quick shifts in mood with strong emotions.
- Refusal to Cooperate: Refuses to adhere to financial and investment advice, even though that advice matches up with previously stated goals.
- Confusion: May be upset or confused about supposed missing funds in accounts, even though no unauthorized withdrawals or expenditures have been made.
- Forgetfulness: Doesn't remember or is unaware of recent financial transactions.
All the above-mentioned factors are signs that it's time to get serious about protecting your elder's financial well being from exploitation and abuse. Meet with family, lawyers, and financial professionals to decide what steps to make for your elderly loved one, whether that be power of attorney, account-sharing, a conservatorship, or trust. Unfortunately there's no shortage of opportunistic predators out there, so act now to secure the future rather than later - at much greater cost.