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World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is Approaching! Here three ideas to help prevent financial abuse in senior adults.

Help prevent financial fraud abuse in senior adults.

According to the National Center on Elder Abuse,  90% of financial fraud in senior adults is caused by family members or people who know the senior adult well. Sadly, senior adults are financially vulnerable to neighbors, friends, or caregivers. In this article, I’d like to share three ideas to protect the financial livelihood of senior adults.

Idea No. 1. Educate yourself and your senior adult on the general problems that affect senior adults. An educational issue, for example, is the identification of financial capacity in senior adults. Financial ability implies managing a person’s financial affairs consistently with a senior person’s self-interest and long-held values. At its basic level, senior adults must perform simple tasks such as naming bills and indicating the monetary value of coins. At their most complex level, senior adults in full financial capacity complete tasks such as applying financial concepts to everyday transactions. In addition, senior adults also identify parts of a bank statement, indicate personal properties, and equally their patrimonial arrangements. If this is not the case, go ahead and find out if there are any red flags.

What is considered a red flag in this context?

Idea No. 2. To protect senior adults, it is a good idea to always be on the lookout for red flags in their behavior. A red flag is a term used to indicate an action that shows danger, and the color red is used as a symbol to stop an activity. Warning signs or red flags can appear in senior adults when their mental capacity begins to decline. Sometimes a decreased ability in senior adults can be challenging to identify, especially in its milder forms -National Institute on Aging. However, an example of a red flag is when a senior adult, whose signature is on an important document, then says, “It doesn’t look familiar to me” or “I don’t remember signing this document.” Behavior like this can alert you, indicating a red flag.

What should you do if you detect a red flag in a senior adult’s behavior?

Idea No. 3. Monitor and revise actions and transactions for accuracy on a routine basis. In this case, it is vital to pay close attention to notifications in changes to the senior adult assets. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, mental impairment is not a significant factor in financial abuse cases; however, senior adults find themselves entrusting financial transactions to family members or caregivers due to physical limitations. For this reason, senior adults risk safekeeping of their financial assets.

If you wish to get involved in preventing financial abuse against senior adults, you can reach out to the National Adult Protective Services Association.  According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, most financial fraud cases go unreported. Only 1 in 44 cases of financial abuse against senior adults is reported.

Help prevent financial fraud abuse in senior adults. The University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension Miami-Dade offers an educational workshop on Financial Fraud Prevention affecting Senior Adults (English & Spanish). Click here to register for an educational workshop on Fraud Prevention: Senior Adults (English & Spanish).  Furthermore, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse (ncea.aoa.gov) to know more about this topic.

Sources:

APA.org.  Https://www.apa.org/pi/aging/programs/assessment/capacity-psychologist-handbook.pdf.

“Roadmap to Better Data Can Help Fight Elder Abuse and Neglect.” Aging Today, vol. 35, no. 5, American Society on Aging, Sept. 2014, p. 16.

CNBC.com.  Elder financial abuse news.  May.  Https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/13/elder-financial-abuse-is-a-multibillion-dollar-problem.html.