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How Families Stop Elder Financial Abuse | Communication & Trust

How Families Stop Elder Financial Abuse | Trust & CommunicationElder financial abuse puts a senior's livelihood and well-being in jeopardy, and the problem isn't going away. If anything, the epidemic of exploitation against our elderly loved ones is only expanding, with Bloomberg recently estimating the annual losses across America at $37 billion. And this month Wells Fargo released its Elder Needs Survey, a study that interviewed 784 older Americans and 798 adult children of seniors. Its results help give us a fuller picture of how wrongdoers can find opportunities to perpetrate elder financial abuse, and how we can stop it or prevent it altogether.

One of the main findings from Wells Fargo's survey concerns vulnerability to scams and financial exploitation. While practically all older Americans as a group admit that they are more susceptible to fraud and financial abuse, only one in ten state that they themselves could fall for a scam. Our seniors are extremely confident, at 81%, that they won't be taken advantage of individually. Although a significant portion of their adult children, 38%, expressed worry their parents could be exploited, three out of four still thought they wouldn't ever be abused. This signals a misplaced confidence by American seniors and their children - that elder financial abuse can happen, but it can't happen to them. Today we can no longer take such assumptions for granted if we want to keep seniors safe.

Another major blind spot for the survey's participants was who exactly is most likely to commit exploitation. Even though about half of older Americans said that they have relatives they wouldn't trust with their money, 68% thought strangers would be the most likely perpetrators of elder financial abuse, followed by caretakers at 24%. Less than one in ten correctly answered that family members are in reality the majority of abusers. When you take that fact into account, you'll understand why elder financial abuse is chronically underreported - the shame, embarrassment, fear and dependency an elder experiences will often keep them from speaking out.

If there's one effective way to counter elder financial abuse, it's through good family communication. As the study makes clear, we still have a way to go in this area as well. A quarter of seniors find it hard to talk about money issues with their adult children, one-third of whom feel the same way. Clear lines of communication between elders and family can help establish key protections and plan better for the future. Not only that, but elders will find it easier to confide in loved ones they trust.

Hackard Law represents heirs and beneficiaries across California in elder financial abuse litigation. We protect client interests in areas from Los Angeles and Sacramento to Alameda, Santa Clara and Orange County. Call us today at 916-313-3030. We want to hear your story.

How Families Stop Elder Financial Abuse | Communication & Trust from Hackard Law on Vimeo.

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