Your parents raised you with wisdom and compassion, and throughout your lifetime you relied on them for their advice and knowledge. It can be difficult to see them rely more and more on the care of others as they age. When your parents’ mental faculties begin to decline, you may be even further saddened and alarmed. While these are normal feelings for those with aging loved ones, you and other Florida residents should also understand that senior citizens can be at risk of being taken advantage of financially. In many cases, the people who are financially abusing them are caregivers or other people they know.
According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, about one out of 20 senior citizens in America are victims of scams and other forms of financial abuse. You may recognize at least one of the following cons that can trick vulnerable seniors:
- Fraudulent calls by con artists posing as IRS agents or utility company employees, demanding immediate payment to avoid arrest or fines
- Letters by sweepstakes, lottery companies and other organizations falsely claiming the recipient has won something but must pay a fee before claiming the winnings
- An email from someone claiming to be a family member who was stranded or arrested and needs money
Unfortunately, stranger scams are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to elder financial abuse. A family member who is taking care of your parents could coerce or trick them into giving him or her access to their bank accounts or making him or her the sole beneficiary of their will. Even someone your parents would consider an acquaintance, such as a tax preparer, home care nurse or financial advisor, may see a way to take financial advantage.
Some age-related conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or stroke may leave your parents unable to make sound financial decisions on their own. Certain types of estate planning, such as a power of attorney, conservatorship or guardianship of an incapacitated adult, are meant to protect your loved ones’ assets and ensure their needs are met.