Best Way To Prevent Financial Exploitation

Best Way To Prevent Financial Exploitation

Solutions to address financial risks related to the older adult's health or behaviors include:

  • Discussing concerns with the older adult
  • Talking with health professionals
  • Finding help for financial tasks

Discussing Concerns With the Older Adult

Health conditions or behaviors can increase the risk of or be warning signs of financial exploitation.

If you're concerned that the older adult's health or behavior is related to financial exploitation, think about if it's unusual for the older adult. For example, has the older adult always struggled with math or been secretive about money matters? If it's new, have you noticed any other changes?

Tell the older adult what you've noticed and how it might be related to finances. For example, if the older adult:

  • Struggles with math, is confused about financial decisions or is easily overwhelmed with information, the older adult might be targeted by scammers
  • Has hearing or vision loss, the older adult might have trouble tracking financial information or noticing theft
  • Has cognitive impairment or dementia, the older adult might be targeted by scammers or have trouble recognizing financial exploitation
  • Seems lonely, depressed or anxious, the older adult might be targeted by scammers or might be upset about having become a victim
  • Is nervous or secretive about financial decisions, the older adult might be trying to hide that they've lost money to fraud
  • Is losing weight unexpectedly, the older adult might be upset or have trouble affording food because of financial exploitation
  • Doesn't go to medical appointments or take or refill medications, the older adult might have trouble paying for healthcare because of financial exploitation

Ask if the older adult has concerns about fraud, scams or financial exploitation. Tell the older adult that theft, scams or other financial exploitation can happen to anyone and can be committed by professional scammers, paid help, or even friends or family.

Understand that older adults might hear these concerns as questioning their judgment or abilities. Stress that the older adult hasn't done anything wrong.

Ask when the older adult last saw a health professional. Encourage the older adult to talk about health-related financial concerns with health professionals.

Talking With Health Professionals

Ask health professionals if the older adult's health conditions could increase the risk of or be warning signs of financial exploitation. Health conditions that might be related to financial exploitation include:

  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Hearing loss
  • Vision problems
  • Weight loss

Tell health professionals about any new symptoms or issues, such as the older adult being confused about financial decisions, or having trouble checking figures or tracking information. Share as much information as you can and that the older adult is comfortable with, including:

  • When the older adult or you first noticed the issue
  • If the issue is constant, or sometimes a problem and sometimes not
  • Whether the issue is getting worse
  • If the older adult is experiencing other changes or difficulties

Confusion or problems with judgment or memory can be caused by stress, medications, lack of sleep, treatable health issues or serious conditions like dementia. Health professionals can figure out the cause and suggest next steps.

Ask health professionals to describe the regular tasks needed to manage the older adult's health conditions. Say if the older adult has trouble with health tasks, like taking or refilling medications, checking blood sugar or blood pressure, or going to appointments. Ask health professionals to recommend tools or strategies that could make these tasks easier for the older adult.

Ask health professionals if the older adult's health might make managing finances or avoiding financial exploitation difficult. If so, ask if the health professional can recommend resources.

Finding Help for Financial Tasks

Ask if the older adult would like help with financial tasks. Discuss if you can help with any tasks. Ask who else the older adult trusts and feels comfortable asking to help. Offer to contact potential helpers.

For those able to help, describe the financial task. Discuss how much time it will take, and if it's a one-time, occasional or ongoing need. Only share information needed to do each task. If the task involves sensitive information, discuss how they will keep the information secure.

If you're looking for professional help, ask if the older adult has worked with financial advisors, accountants or lawyers in the area. If not, ask if the older adult would like help finding professionals.

When looking for professional help:

  • Ask the older adult to describe the work they want the professional to do.
  • Ask relatives, friends and other professionals for recommendations.
  • Ask about and check the professional's credentials. Find out which government agency oversees professionals in their field. Check with the agency to make sure the professional's license or registration is current. Ask if there have been complaints against the professionals.
  • Interview the professional, together with the older adult if possible. Ask about their experience overall and with work similar to what the older adult needs.
  • Ask the professional for a written proposed plan of work and cost estimate. Carefully review contracts before signing.