Age alone does not make someone vulnerable or susceptible to financial elder abuse. If you are the child, caregiver or friend of an older adult there are signs to watch for that may indicate someone is vulnerable to financial elder abuse, or that they may already be a victim.
Some of the warning signs that someone may be vulnerable to financial elder abuse include the following.
They are socially isolated, depressed or lonely
Unfortunately, many older adults who live alone spend a lot of their time isolated away from others. During times like the COVID-19 pandemic those times of isolation are steadily increased, which can also heighten feelings of depression and loneliness. Unfortunately, isolation can make people vulnerable to financial elder abuse because no one is present to see the effect abuse may be having. Someone who is depressed or lonely can be more susceptible to a fraudster who will prey on those feelings.
They have experienced a change in their ability for self-care, or they depend on someone ese to provide everyday care
When someone is reliant on another person for self-care or everyday care it unfortunately opens them up to being taken advantage of. If they are having someone pay their bills or withdrawing money from their accounts for them, it leaves them vulnerable to theft. Make sure you implicitly trust the person that is acting as a caregiver, especially if they will be helping to manage finances.
They have given power of attorney to someone to manage their finances
Not everyone that has power of attorney takes advantage of that situation. However, it does happen and needs to be watched out for. If a person has given power of attorney to a family member, friend or caregiver make sure there is some other oversight whether it’s another person, their bank or their adviser.
They have cognitive issues or other health-related issues
Older adults with cognitive issues have been taken advantage of by family members, advisers and caregivers. This abuse is often never found or found too late to get back the money taken. Having a trusted person overseeing their finances is a great protection for anyone with cognitive or other health issues.