SALT LAKE CITY – As financial exploitation targeting older adults continues to become more prevalent in the United States, Utah Adult Protective Services has joined a nationwide campaign to encourage older adults and their families to address the issue and get informed about the warning signs and resources available to help prevent abuse.
Research shows that as many as five million older adults are victims of financial exploitation each year, costing an estimated $3 billion.
As part of its tenth annual Home for the Holidays campaign, the Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging that is administered by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, is encouraging older adults, their caregivers and families to use their time together this holiday season to discuss and get informed about strategies to prevent financial exploitation. The National Center on Elder Abuse partnered with the Eldercare Locator to produce a consumer guide that is now available to help.
“This holiday season is an ideal time for families to get together and discuss these issues with their older family members,” APS Investigator David Fast said. “We strongly encourage Utah families to take some time to learn about the warning signs so that they can ask the right questions and take the right precautions to ensure that the finances of older adult family members are safe.”
There are several signs of financial exploitation to look out four, including financial activity that is inconsistent with an older adult’s history, confusion about recent financial arrangement, a caregiver or beneficiary who refuses to use designated funds for necessary care and treatment of an older adult and an older adult who feels threatened by a caregiver who is seeking to control their finances.
“Financial exploitation is a threat to the health, safety, dignity and independence of vulnerable older adults,” said Kathy Greenlee, Administrator of the Administration for Community Living and Assistant Secretary for Aging.
Families that are concerned about financial exploitation should report the issue to state agencies that deal with protecting the safety and well-being of older adults. The campaign released preventative tips, some of which include:
Get an estate plan in place. Talk with an attorney about creating a durable power of attorney for asset management, a living will, living trust and health care advance directives.
Lean how to avoid fraud and scams online.
Consult with a trusted advisor before making any large purchases or investments.
Do not provide sensitive personal or financial information over the phone unless you placed the call and know with whom you are speaking.
If you hire someone to help you in your home, ensure that they have been properly screened with criminal background checks completed. Ask for certifications when appropriate.
Mary Twomey, Co-Director of the National Center on Elder Abuse, said, “Financial exploitation can be prevented if people know the right questions to ask and where to turn for help. Although it is a sensitive issue and one that can be difficult to broach, it is critical for families to address, and there are many useful resources available to guide them through the process.”
A digital copy of the financial exploitation brochure is available online.
Submitted by: Utah Department of Human Services