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Financial exploitation: A risk the elderly face

Financial exploitation of an elderly loved one is a serious problem that has to be managed as soon as you notice it. If you suspect that your mother’s or father’s new friend is trying to edge into your parent’s will or that the nursing home aide has been taking advantage of your loved one’s good nature and bank account, talk to a lawyer about your legal options.

Whatever the issue, it’s in your best interests to put a stop to it immediately. If you don’t, other parties could do damage that is hard to reverse.

What is financial exploitation?

Elder financial exploitation is a type of abuse that directly affects seniors and adults with disabilities. Financial exploitation is unfortunately common and may occur due to the influence of neighbors, friends, family members, caretakers and others.

Elder abuse is under-reported. The Louisiana Department of Health believes that only about one out of 44 cases is reported. Financial exploitation may drain an elderly person’s bank accounts, result in changes to his or her will, or mean the elderly person has to turn to Medicaid due to a lack of funds.

What makes a person prone to financial exploitation?

The main cause comes down to cognitive impairment. When people aren’t able to make good cognitive decisions or are unable to understand the risks associated with one’s actions, they become more vulnerable to abuse of all types. Financial abuse is just one way that your loved one could be taken advantage of if he or she lives with cognitive impairment.

What are some common forms of financial exploitation?

Professional exploiters may use tricks such as claiming they’re from the utility company and need to be paid or that they’re going to deposit funds in exchange for the elderly person paying taxes or a fee on the delivery of an award.

Family members and trusted others have also been known to misuse their powers of attorney or take advantage of a joint bank account. In-home care providers have been known to keep the change from providing services or to use the vulnerable adult’s bank or funds to pay for their own needs.

What should you do if you suspect financial exploitation?

The first thing you should do is track down some evidence of the exploitation. Once you have a basis for your claims, you can speak with your attorney about how to protect your loved one against this abuse. By addressing the issue early on, it’s easier to put a stop to the behaviors that will negatively impact your loved one and his or her estate.

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