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Nolan Elder Law and Estate Planning, LLC Blog

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Protect Your Loved One: Know the Signs of Financial Abuse of the Elderly

What should I do if I suspect my loved one is being financially abused?

Preventing financial exploitation of the elderly starts with recognizing when it is occurring.  Adult Protective Services of Alabama leads several programs that aim to identify and prevent elder abuse, including financial exploitation.  The agency strives to make people aware of the red flags of elder abuse.  Through prompt reporting of abuse, action can be taken to end the financial exploitation and restore the elderly individual’s finances. 

Elderly individuals are often at an increased risk of financial exploitation.  They may be isolated and lonely, or have physical or mental disabilities that make them easy targets for the unscrupulous.  Instances of financial abuse can range from theft by caregivers or nursing home staff to telephone solicitation scams.  The list of potential perpetrators of financial abuse is rather large and could include anyone from other family members to personal care attendants, nursing home staff, friends, and businesses.

Family members are often in the best position to recognize signs of financial abuse.  Potential signs of financial abuse include:

  • Missing personal items
  • Unpaid bills, notices to disconnect utilities, and eviction notices
  • New “best friends” or nursing home staff members that seem always to be present
  • A caregiver or friend that expresses excessive interest in the elderly individual’s finances or will
  • Withdrawals from the bank that the older person cannot explain
  • Suspicious signatures on checks and other documents
  • Legal documents that the elderly individual does not understand
  • Constant calls to the home requesting personal information

If you notice these potential signs of abuse, it is important to take prompt action.  Report the abuse to the authorities so that it is thoroughly investigated.  Those caught financially exploiting the elderly may face jail time and significant fines.  In addition, elderly individuals that have become the victims of abuse may be able to seek compensation through a civil legal action.  Contact an elder law attorney in your area as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.

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