Did you know that 1 in 10 Older Americans have been victim to some form of elder abuse?

Sadly, this is true.

In reality, elder abuse can sometimes be difficult to identify. It is a common misconception that elder exploitation is committed by criminals. While there are perpetrators out there who could harm your aging loved one, in reality, most elder abuse is committed by people close to the senior, such as family members and staff members of assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Exploitation is not always identified by a bruise on your loved one’s body. There are many different types of elder exploitation that you should be aware of, including financial, emotional, sexual, and physical exploitation.

We know this can be a difficult topic to think about, but it is important that you understand the signs of elder abuse so you can better protect your senior loved ones from harm. This is why we want to share a few tips to help you protect the elders you love from exploitation.

First, we encourage you to take some time and talk to your senior loved one. Opening the conversation of elder abuse may help you and your loved one recognize whether exploitation is occurring. Encourage your loved one to share details about their day and anything that made them uncomfortable or if they were asked to provide someone with their personal or financial details. By engaging in this discussion regularly, you can stay informed about any updates in your loved one’s mental or physical well-being and notice any signs that may indicate something is going on.

When it comes to financial exploitation, the signs may not always be as clear as physical abuse. Financial exploitation is a common form of elder abuse, but often, your loved one may not know they are being targeted. Scammers prey on vulnerable seniors in many different ways, for example, tax scams, telemarketing scams, and internet scams. Unfortunately, you may not know your loved one has been affected until there is a sudden and extreme change in their available finances.

Creating a durable power of attorney can help protect your loved one from both abuse and financial exploitation. A durable power of attorney allows the creator to designate a close friend, family member, or trusted advisor as an agent with wide-ranging authority over the creator’s decisions. These decisions are usually related to medical care and finances. By encouraging your aging loved one to create this document, he or she can appoint you or another close friend or family member to handle his or her finances. With this access, the agent can monitor the creator’s finances and can quickly notice if something suspicious is occurring.

If you suspect your senior loved one has been, or currently is, a victim of elder abuse or exploitation, you should report it to authorities as soon as possible. If you need further advice about handling the suspected exploitation of your loved one or creating legal documents to protect them, do not wait to get in touch with our office.