Financial exploitation is the most reported form of elder abuse. Characterized as improper or illegal use of funds, assets, or property of seniors over the age of 60, financial exploitation is becoming increasingly common. Although seniors make easy targets for scam artists, an estimated 90 percent of monetary abusers are friends, family, neighbors, and employees entrusted to care for the elderly. How can you protect your loved one’s finances?
Recognizing Financial Problems
Older ones who are most often targeted for financial abuse are isolated from family and friends, have recently suffered a loss, or have decreased physical or mental abilities. Seniors living at home with the help of a quality caregiver may avoid financial exploitation. Caregivers who use a homecare system or homecare software like ClearCare Online can help seniors organize their finances and pay bills on time. When checking accounts and bank books are kept up-to-date, financial exploitation is easier to spot.
Family members and trusted caregivers can be on the lookout for the following warning signs:
- Unexplained charges on credit cards
- Unexplained bank transfers or withdrawals
- Unfamiliar signatures on checks
- Unauthorized changes to bank accounts or documents – including wills
In-home caregivers who utilize a homecare system or homecare software can set daily or weekly reminders to check bank balances or review credit card charges for fraudulent activity.
Protecting Your Finances
Seniors who have loved ones with substance abuse problems or have serious debt should pay careful attention to their finances. Even beloved family members can take advantage of their senior relatives when they become desperate.
What other ways can seniors protect themselves from fraud and exploitation?
- Safeguard accounts and documents. Set up direct deposit for Social Security or pension benefits. Use automated bill pay for expenses rather than writing out checks. Don’t just toss bank statements or documents with account numbers – shred them first.
- Work with reputable professionals. Don’t rely on family members to prepare your last will and testament, as they may “fudge” the documents in their favor. If you hire an in-home caregiver, be sure they have been properly screened. Agency administrators who manage their business with a homecare system or homecare software can easily provide you with the details of their caregivers’ background checks.
If you have concerns about your elderly loved ones but aren’t able to check in as often as you’d like, a reliable in-home caregiver can ease your fears. With a dependable homecare system or homecare software like ClearCare Online, you can virtually “see” what goes on at your loved one’s home. You can verify that the assigned caregiver has arrived as scheduled, thanks to a sophisticated telephony system that requires the caregiver clock in using the client’s home telephone. All daily tasks, like meals and medications, are confirmed using a web-based homecare system, so you can rest assured that your loved one is being cared for properly. ClearCare Online’s homecare software also makes it easy for you to view invoices for your elderly relatives – another way you can keep an eye on their finances.
What other ways can you help protect the finances of your elderly loved ones? Drop us a line and let us know!