by Pam Reiss
According to the latest available statistics from the Administration on Aging, the number of senior citizens in America represented about 14.5 percent of the population. But that number is on the rise. The AoA expects that by 2040, seniors will make up nearly 22 percent—and by 2060 that number skyrockets to nearly 30 percent.
Unfortunately, the growing number of seniors in the community means that individuals looking for a mark for financial exploitation will have an easier time than ever. Seniors are targets for a number of reasons:
- They’re likely sitting on more money in retirement than many younger people.
- Some seniors have few friends or family members around and will suspend suspicion in favor of having company.
- Some leave the responsibility of managing their finances to younger family members that feel entitled to money they expect to inherit.
- Seniors in assisted living communities are surrounded by workers that may not have their best interests at heart.
- Health issues associated with aging, such as dementia, make abuse easier to get away with.
- Elders’ unfamiliarity with new technologies makes gaining access to personal financial data simpler.
All of these factors have converged on a growing elderly population to form a proverbial perfect storm for elder abuse. Just how rampant is the threat? According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, about 10 percent of seniors have fallen victim to financial exploitation.
Unfortunately, that means there is a great likelihood that someone you love may have been affected. Considering that these members of society are already on a fixed income in most cases, these abuses are considerably more heinous. The impact can range from inability to afford medications and housing to losses for family members that may have been expecting financial assistance themselves.
So what can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen to one of your loved ones? Take advantage of legal tools to limit the number of individuals that have access to, or control over, the finances of your aging family or friends. Use advance directives, living wills and limited powers of attorney for health care and financial decisions.
Awareness and education are also critical. Be sure that your aging loved ones are aware of the perils that exist in the world today. Be sure they understand that they should never provide sensitive personal information over the phone or online. If there is ever any question, be sure to speak directly to a representative from the institution in question, be it a bank, credit card company, or even something as seemingly benign as a telemarketing cold-call.
To learn more about how you can help to protect your loved ones against elder abuse, stop by The Milford Bank. Our financial experts will treat you as if you were one of our own family members.