How to Protect Seniors from Scams

Part 2 in a series about protecting the elderly from different forms of fraud.

In the first part of this series we covered how elderly victims are often targeted or fall victim to telephone or mail fraud. Unfortunately this is only one of several ways in which our older loved ones are victimized. If you have an elderly friend or relative that requires some assistance in day to day living, perhaps from a guardian, personal care program or even a nursing home facility you may find yourself worrying about other types of fraud or abuse. It is sad but true that most times people take advantage of the members of our society that are least able to protect themselves. The following tips and information may be able to help you spot elder abuse or dependent care fraud. By recognizing the signs you may be able to offer a voice to a victim that desperately needs your help.

What is elder abuse and where does it occur?

There are different forms of elder abuse and exploitation each with their own warning signs that are covered below. Most elder abuse occurs where the elder lives, either at home where they receive care from a relative or paid caregiver or in a long term care facility.

Emotional Abuse

There are both verbal and nonverbal forms of emotional abuse that causes emotional pain or distress to the victim.

  • Humiliation or ridicule

  • Intimidation through yelling or threats

  • Ignoring the victim

  • Not allowing the victim to socialize with friends or activities

  • Terrorizing or menacing the elderly person

Physical Abuse

This occurs when a purposeful use of force against an elderly person results in physical injury or pain.

  • Physical indications of restraint.

  • Unexplained injuries such as broken bones, sprains or dislocations

  • Refusal from caregiver to see or speak to the elder alone

  • Overdosing or withholding regular medication

Financial Exploitation

A common form of abuse or fraud among the elderly is financial exploitation where an unauthorized person uses the victims personal funds or property for their own gain.

  • Sudden changes in the victims financial situation

  • Repeated and significant withdrawals from checking or saving accounts

  • Cash or valuable items missing from the elders home or personal property missing in a nursing home environment

  • Purchases made that are not likely related to the victim; unnecessary services, goods, etc.

  • Failure to pay bills even though there are funds to cover the expenses

  • Changes made to legal documents such as online wills, power of attorney, etc that appear suspicious in nature

Preventing elder abuse and fraud.

The following tips can help prevent and protect your loved ones from abuse and fraud.

  • Pay attention: the warning signs are generally right in front of you, if you suspect abuse or fraud, get involved and report the individuals responsible.

  • Monitor elders medication to ensure they are receiving all the medication they need and in the proper intervals.

  • Review your loved ones financial records, looking for possible financial abuse. Investigate and follow up on any unusual or suspicious activities or transactions.

  • Get involved. In some cases a caregiver may become overwhelmed and the situation can spiral out of control quickly. Visit your loved one often so you can spot a deteriorating situation and offer to stay with the elder so the caregiver can have a break on a regular basis.

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