strategies for avoiding the pitfalls of scammers, people we don’t know personally, who contact us by phone, mail or email. Today, I’ll focus on the people who are involved in our day-to-day lives. Statistics show that caregivers and relatives are high on the list of those most likely to commit abuse. There are, however, a few simple steps you can take to protect yourself.
In-home caretakers--related to you or not--will have access to your personal belongings, including your bank accounts. Be sure that valuables such as jewelry are secure within your home or stored in a lockbox at your bank. Keep an up-to-date inventory of your valuables and their associated worth. Reconcile your bank accounts and credit card statements at least monthly to insure no unauthorized withdrawals or charges have been made. If you are unable to do this on your own, ask a trusted friend or family member (who is not the caretaker!) to assist you.
Relatives can also commit Elder Financial Abuse. For most seniors, healthcare costs increase as they age and often consume a large portion of their savings. Adult children may attempt to gain access to these funds before they are spent, forsaking the proper healthcare of their aging parents for their own benefit. Seniors who fall victim to this abuse are left with insufficient financial resources to live out their retirement and are unable to afford the healthcare they require as they get older.
Before you give or lend money to relatives, be sure you have put away enough money to cover your own financial needs. A good financial plan will ensure you set aside enough money to cover your retirement and healthcare needs, including assisted living. The monthly cost of a good senior living facility is $3,500 – $6,000 per month. If you have a long-term care policy, understand how the policy benefits will be paid and how much the benefit is.
Anyone who has stolen from or used undue influence to gain control of an older person’s money or property has committed Elder Financial Abuse and likely has committed a crime. If you suspect your loved ones may be the victims of some type of financial abuse, contact your local Adult Protective Services office or feel free to contact us.
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