The accumulation of a lifetime’s savings, increased likelihood of diminished mental capacity, and an increased physical dependence on others make the elderly popular targets for financial exploitation. This post will discuss some of the signs that an elderly loved one may be experiencing financial exploitation.

Missing credit/debit cards, checks, and checkbooks that an elderly person may claim to have simply mislaid may be a sign of theft. If these instruments cannot be quickly found, steps should be taken to notify relevant financial institutions to cancel the checks and cards and prevent further losses. Additionally, financial statements should be reviewed regularly to make sure that there are no unexplained transactions. Mailed notices of unpaid bills or unexplained statements from new financial institutions may be a sign that an individual has been the victim of identity theft.

In terms of a person’s residence, the sudden disappearance of items from a person’s home should arouse suspicion. Conversely, the sudden accumulation of new items that a person has never before expressed an interest in should arouse suspicion that the items are actually being bought for someone else who is using the elderly individual.

One particularly unpleasant sign to look out for is if a relative, new friend, or caregiver seemingly isolates an elderly individual from the rest of their friends and family. Once isolated, the exploiter often seeks to transfer assets and/or get self-serving estate planning documents signed.

The perpetrators of financial exploitation of the elderly tend to have a history of substance abuse, criminal records, and/or mental illness. In order to prevent this type of exploitation, people should maintain frequent contact with elderly relatives and friends and exercise due diligence when selecting caregivers.

For additional advice regarding properly selecting caregivers and the creation of planning documents to deal with potential incapacities, please call Martha C. Brown & Associates at (314) 962-0186.