Is your parent a victim of financial abuse?
As your parent grows older, you may feel concern about his or her health and wellbeing, especially if your loved one lives alone. Since you work or have other obligations to tend to, you may not be able to offer your parent the time and attention you would like to. This is why you may have felt relief when a family member or friend stepped in to help your parent.
Now, however, you are feeling less grateful and more suspicious of the person who has taken a sudden interest in your loved one. If you worry that your parent may become the victim of financial abuse, you would be wise to know how to recognize the signs and what you can do to protect your loved one.
Noticing the warnings
Along with physical and emotional abuse, financial abuse is becoming too common among elderly citizens of Connecticut and beyond. In fact, the National Adult Protective Services reports that one in every nine seniors suffers neglect, abuse or exploitation each year, and many times at the hands of someone they trust. For many, perhaps including your loved one, being duped out of money or assets can be too humiliating to admit. If someone is exploiting your loved one, you may notice worrisome changes, for example:
- Your parent's new caretaker puts limits on your visits with your loved one.
- Your parent seems withdrawn, depressed or unusually emotional and refuses to discuss these changes with you.
- You notice there are items missing from your parent's home, especially heirlooms or valuables.
- Your loved one's new caretaker is making personal decisions you feel are not in your loved one's best interest or are beyond the scope of the caretaker's position.
- You notice unexplained withdrawals or transfers from your parent's financial accounts.
- Your parent has suddenly changed his or her will, power of attorney or other critical documents.
One of the most important things you can do to stop the abuse or to protect your loved one from becoming a victim of financial exploitation is to step in and deal with the issue. You may find it easy to dismiss some of these signs as evidence that your loved one is getting older and experiencing a diminished mental state, but your involvement may be just enough to spare your parent much suffering.
If you find that someone has already taken advantage of your parent's vulnerable situation, you can always talk to a legal professional to learn how the laws related to elder abuse apply to your loved one's situation.