As a growing number of the population ages, adults over the age of 50 increasingly control most of the country’s wealth. Unfortunately, this trend leaves seniors vulnerable to becoming victims of financial abuse.
With proper planning, there are ways to protect yourself and your loved one from elder financial abuse. Learn more about this form of elder abuse and how to prevent it in this blog curated by Sonrisa Assisted Living and Memory Care.
What Is Elder Financial Abuse?
A common form of elder abuse is financial abuse. Elder financial abuse occurs when someone illegally or improperly uses an older adult’s money or possessions for their own personal use or gain.
According to the National Council on Aging, financial abuse victims experience an annual loss of approximately $36.5 billion. Older adults are more susceptible to financial abuse due to cognitive impairments and increased isolation.
How Do You Recognize the Warning Signs of Financial Abuse?
If you are responsible for managing your finances or those of a loved one, consider these warning signs when trying to detect financial abuse.
Have you experienced or observed any of the following?
- Unusual bank withdrawals or transfers between accounts
- New accounts opened without your consent
- Incidents of insufficient funds or unpaid bills
- Recently closed accounts
- Large amounts of wired money
- Suspicious signatures on checks
- Checks noted as gifts or loans
Whom Do You Contact if You or a Loved One Has Experienced Financial Abuse?
If you or a loved one feels you have become a victim of financial abuse, take these steps to report what has occurred:
- Call 911 if you are in immediate danger.
- If you aren’t in immediate danger, call Adult Protective Services at 1-833-401-0832. You will enter your zip code to be transferred to your local county’s program, where you can file a report.
- If you or your loved one resides in a licensed senior living community, call the Ombudsman program in your state. They will serve as your advocate and guide you on what steps to take to report the abuse.
- Another helpful resource may be an elder attorney. View this directory from the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc. to find assistance near you.
- If you feel that you or a loved one is the victim of fraud, you can call the National Elder Fraud Hotline at 1-822-372-8311. You will be assigned a case manager through this program led by the U.S. Department of Justice.
What Steps Can You Take to Prevent Financial Abuse?
Fortunately, you can take steps to protect yourself or a loved one from elder financial abuse. It’s best to refrain from sharing your social security number, banking account numbers, or other financial information over the phone.
Here are additional steps you can take to prevent financial abuse:
- Talk to your loved ones about the subject. Stress the importance of protecting financial details and accounts from others. Encourage your loved one to come to you with any concerns or suspicious activity they encounter.
- Shred documents containing banking or other financial account details instead of throwing them in the trash.
- Run background checks, request references, and conduct thorough interviews of any caregivers you hire for yourself or your loved one.
- Set up mobile banking notifications to view banking activity alerts.
- Keep your checkbook and financial statements in a secure place, like a safe or locked drawer, when others are in your home.
- Always consult with your attorney or financial advisor before signing a document you don’t understand.
- Use checks or credit cards instead of cash as forms of payment to create a paper trail of your purchases.
- Trust your gut. If you feel like something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Try not to rush into a financial decision, especially a substantial one.
- Consider designating someone you trust as your financial power of attorney. If you become incapacitated, this person will step in and handle your financial matters on your behalf.
Life at Sonrisa Assisted Living
If you’re looking at options for senior living, we invite your family to visit Sonrisa Assisted Living, designed to support your loved ones to live their highest quality of life.
We offer studio and one-bedroom private apartments for our assisted living residents as well as private or shared memory care suites for those living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Our memory care residents are cared for by our compassionate and specially trained team — who meet them wherever they are in their journey with patience and kindness. The residents also have access to customized activities, programs, and an elevated secured courtyard.
Our amenities and services encourage our residents in assisted living to engage with others, remain as independent as possible, and be reassured that help is available whenever needed.
In addition to our personalized services, we offer:
- Assisted Living dining room, bistro and two sitting lounge/living room areas
- Memory Care living and dining room
- Elegantly designed common areas
- Fitness and wellness center with physical and occupational therapy room
- A commercial kitchen
- Barber and beauty salon in both assisted living and memory care areas
- 24-hour on-duty care staff
- Secured community
- Art room
- Multipurpose room
- Large state‐of‐the‐art theater
- A large secured Assisted Living and separate Memory Care courtyard with walking paths
- On‐grade parking for immediate use of visitors and staff
- Dog Park
If your family is considering retirement living, we hope you will visit Sonrisa Assisted Living. We are a trusted resource and are here to answer any questions. Contact us today to learn more and schedule a tour.
You may also download our complimentary brochure to get additional details about Sonrisa Assisted Living.