Experts agree that financial exploitation of older people is a problem that is growing as America ages, and that it is significantly underreported. While some high-profile examples have been widely reported, financial exploitation tends to be a hidden crime and, within families, victims don’t want to prosecute.
AARP recently published an article by John Rosengren with a number of useful suggestions for protecting aging loved ones.
- When a person is still mentally sharp, help to make a plan that designates power of attorney and health care directives.
- Stay connected with older loved ones through regular phone calls, visits or emails.
- Develop a relationship with caregivers, as they are less likely to act inappropriately if they know that someone is paying attention.
- Become a “trusted contact” to monitor bank account and investment activity.
- Sign up for a service that tracks financial activity and notifies a designated advocate of unusual activity.
- Set up direct deposit for checks, so that others don’t have to cash them.
- Do not sign any documents that you don’t understand.
All comments and suggestions are welcome.
Walter J. Kirchberger, CFA