Carolyn L. Rosenblatt, RN, Elder Law Attorney, AgingParents.com
Banks and the government collect data on financial elder abuse. No matter how much data the government collects, the problem does not seem to be getting better by any measure. The Office of Financial Protection For Older Americans documents that banks and other institutions filings of “suspicious activity reports” quadrupled between 2013 and 2017. Elders among us are being victimized by predators of all stripes. Collecting data is not going to fix this issue of financial abuse. But it can be stopped by those willing to act.
We see it here at AgingParents.com where one sibling contacts us about another sibling using undue influence to take advantage of a grandparent or aging parent. Sometimes an adult child calls us in alarm, as he has just discovered that mom is falling under the spell of a telephone scammer. In other cases, the elder owns real estate and is no longer able to manage it, and tenants are not paying rent or are trashing the property without consequences. Like banks and institutions, they see but do not take much action. Most banks do not even report the situation to authorities, namely Adult Protective Services (APS). Just seeing a problem is not enough to solve any part of it. Families, unlike banks, do have the power to act quickly. The family has its own hesitation, fear of the need to confront the parent, sibling or other abuser or simply not knowing what to do.
If anyone wants to prevent abuse, the family, the close friend or watchful concerned person in the elder’s life must step in when something doesn’t look right. People close to the aging parent can ask questions, seek legal advice or collect data so that APS has something to work with in stopping a predator. For example, if your parent owns rental properties and he has memory loss and can’t keep track of his own bills every month, that should be notice to you that he can’t manage his real estate either. The family can make best efforts to persuade your aging parent to resign from the position of power, get used to the idea of a professional property manager, and offer to help out yourselves. Better that than waiting until a tenant hasn’t paid rent for a year and has all sorts of bad things happening in the property.
And what if your particularly difficult aging parent with dementia refuses all help? She thinks there is nothing wrong with her. She won’t listen to reason. It is painful to realize that the parent who was well educated and used to be so capable is now impaired. I hear adult children tell me “she was so smart, she was a professor” or “he was a CEO of a Fortune 500 company” and “how could this happen?” This is when professional advice at AgingParents.com can help. We can walk the family through the best strategy for the conversations about approaching your loved one about giving up power. When that fails, we go over the legal documents your aging parents have to see what provisions exist for removing them from being in charge of their finances.
Many courageous adult children we meet are finding that their loved ones need help and are being manipulated. They confront the problem and succeed in getting the money out of the parents’ hands so that they are safe from predators and scammers. In the end, they benefit personally when their inheritance is not destroyed.
When you find yourself stuck with no idea what to do next with your problematic aging loved one, you can sign up for a two hour consultation with us, to be used in a couple of one hour conversations and strategy sessions. We can save you time, money and aggravation.
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