Your parents took care of you for a long time, and you want to return the favor by protecting them when they need it. Unfortunately, the nature of elder abuse means that time may already be here.
Studies have shown that one in five seniors has been the victim of financial exploitation. This can often happen because of the combination of specific characteristics, like a trusting nature, failing mental health and relative wealth. To make matters more difficult, there’s a good chance the one putting your loved one into this camp could be a close family member or friend. But things aren’t hopeless, as there are steps you can take to try to help them.
Spotting the red flags is the most significant part of starting the process, but knowing where to go from there could prove even more critical when dealing with fraud:
- Ask questions: Your first step should probably be to speak with your loved one. Remember to be patient and unaccusatory, as elder abuse often goes undetected because of the victim feeling embarrassment, shame or simply not realizing it has happened. See if you can get a look at their records for proof of wrongdoing.
- Deter abusers: Asking the suspected abuser could be your next course of action. While direct accusations may lead to confrontation, subtle probing may be sufficient. You’re unlikely to get a full confession out of them, but your curiosity could curb their actions while you gather evidence.
- Representation: Elder abuse is often very serious and a criminal offense. Having a lawyer on your side can go a long way if you’re not entirely certain how to proceed. Experienced counsel will know where to find the evidence you need, how to minimize fallout and where to go next.
Make sure you have a plan laid out to handle the ensuing process. Once you’re prepared, you’ll likely be better equipped to combat fraud that might strike close to home.