It is not just professional con artists who can take advantage of vulnerable elderly family members. It can also be trusted friends, family and professional caregivers. Here are several common warning signs that can alert you to an elderly family member being taken advantage of financially. Unfortunately none of these warning signs can be absolute proof that anything financially shady is happening. But they should alert you to pay closer attention to what is going on with your elderly family member and to look into their financial affairs to protect them.
A change in an elderly family member’s behavior may be the result of a physical or mental condition that has absolutely nothing to do with any financial matters. However, the following changes are very common to financial abuse, If your elderly family member begins to display dome of these behaviors, you should be concerned and find out what is going on and address the problem.
Withdrawal from people with whom they are usually regularly in touch with. Failing to make return phone calls. Refusing visitors. Being withdrawn, secretive and hesitant. Avoiding discussion about certain topics that relate specifically to where the elder has been and who they has been visiting with.
Frequent appearance of a new person in your elder family member’s life. One should be extra concerned if your elder defers to this person regarding financial matters, is always present when other people visit and possibly restricts other people’s access to the elder family member.
A change in your elder family member’s financial patterns is usually a good cause for concern. If there are changes in their patterns of spending, or in documents related to financial matters, family members should investigate thoroughly to make sure no one person is gaining too much control over the elder family member’s finances. Some warning signs include:
Unexplained and often sudden changes in or additions of a person’s name to legal or financial documents such as bank accounts, wills, powers of attorney, credit cards and so on.
Unusual financial activity that is not typical for the elder, such as large or frequent withdrawals from bank accounts or disappearance of funds or transfers.
Purchase of services or items that your elderly person cannot use or does not need.
If bills start to become unpaid or you start to notice lack of sufficient food or other amenities this is usually a good sign that there are financial shenanigans occurring.
Supporting aging parents can be a real challenge. By following these guidelines you can help prevent them being taken advantage of financially.