Financial elder abuse is an unfortunate reality in Louisiana communities. If you suspect that an elderly loved one is being exploited, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney with experience in this area of law. Here are four key signs to watch out for:
1. Skipping social events and becoming more isolated
An elderly person may start cutting himself or herself off from the rest of the family. This could be an indication that someone else is influencing your vulnerable loved one, perhaps trying to create that separation and isolationism, which can then be used to influence changes to the will.
2. Sudden financial changes
Maybe the elderly person never paid attention to financial documents before, and now he or she is working with them all the time. Maybe spending habits have changed significantly for unexplained reasons. Maybe some bills are no longer being paid. If any of these abrupt changes raises a red flag, it could be time to ask questions and investigate.
3. Missing money
You may notice that a loved one doesn’t have as much in the bank as you remember. You could find out that an emergency fund was recently drained for no reason. Maybe an investment portfolio a person had for decades was suddenly cashed out, and you’re not sure where that money is. Any time funds disappear, it is wise to start asking questions. The less information you have about the money, the more problematic things can be in terms protecting your loved one’s estate.
4. Suddenly someone new is involved
The person trying to manipulate your elderly relative may not even be someone who is in your family. Maybe it’s a caregiver who starts hanging around far too often. Maybe it’s a sudden new “love interest” that you’ve never heard of before. Maybe it’s a business partner or someone who wants to start a company.
This doesn’t mean all new people are a threat. However, if a new person shows up or starts to be in the elderly person’s life a lot more, and then other issues begin to arise — changes to a will, funds that are missing, and the like — that is when you could be witnessing financial abuse.
Elder abuse isn’t always physical. It is often a form of financial exploitation. Loved ones living with dementia or other memory issues could be most at risk. If you suspect elder abuse, arrange a confidential consultation with an elder law attorney to discuss your concerns.