Senior Smarts: What You Can Do Now to Prevent Elder Abuse Later

In elementary school, teachers and elders instruct children on how to stay safe, keeping from strangers, abstaining from taking rides, and allowing parents to check Halloween candy before consumption.

As we get older, much older, the propensity for danger rises again. Over 2 million Americans, of all socioeconomic backgrounds, suffer forms of elderly abuse. Elders live with loved ones and keep houses and apartments in protective communities, yet it’s still happening.

Elders may lower their risk of abuse by staying alert, keeping the following information in mind.

Get Finances in Order

Elders are major targets for thieves and financial swindlers; unfortunately, some of the offenders are family and friends. Lower the risk of theft or forgetfulness by having social security and pension checks directly deposited into banking accounts.

If handling expenses becomes too difficult or confusing for an elder, ensure they elect a trusted family member or hire a money manager who will track finances, guaranteeing no bills are late and no deposits go missing.

Survey Home Living

As one gets older, friends, family members, and spouses pass. In some cases, elderly family members only have friends and family of younger generations, feeling displaced, or worse, alone. Older family members may be best suited for living in a communal area, where staff helps with food preparation, shopping, clothes washing, and ambulation.

Discuss options with family members and financial counselors. Both short and long-term options exist; if one senior living place proves to be undesirable, there are other options to explore. However, living completely alone places an elder in an unfortunate and vulnerable position regarding theft and personal safety.

Be Cautious

Seniors are constant targets of frauds; thieves assume elders have money from retirement, get confused quickly, and cannot defend themselves in the event of a robbery or altercation.

In some cases, people may come by posing as collectors for the church or homeless, fooling the elderly into providing financial information. In other cases, swindlers may convince elders they previously promised a donation, and now must own up to their word. Lastly, dastardly thieves “scope” or “case out” living arrangements of the elderly, waiting until they are alone, finally taking advantage by covert or forceful means.

Exact Extra Precaution

Of course, we all need be cautious in a number of safety and financial situations, but statistics show the elderly are at high risk of robbery and forms of abuse. Consider taking extra steps, even erring on the side of caution regarding the following:

  • Ensure elders keep a diary or running dialogue about home nurses and helpers. In worst-case scenarios, a nursing home abuse lawyer may feel the need to file suit.
  • Shred all paper receipts, credit card statements, and financial records no longer needed.  Don’t assume ripped pieces of paper can’t be pieced back together, so robbers may render an account or credit card number; it’s happened.
  • Don’t sign any bank, consultant, or professional service agreements unless one fully understands what it says and presages. In some cases, the elderly are charged more or tied into a long-standing contract they did not fully understand or read before signing.
  • Be wary of offered investments.  Often, elders live on meager wages, smaller than what they had when working full time. Often, swindlers attempt to cajole the elderly into making investments that are too good to be true, and more often than not, they are.

Leonardo Dawson is a paralegal clerk for a small law firm in Minnesota. When he’s not working, he enjoys researching and writing about the field.