For most of us, the idea of someone – and especially a relative – taking advantage of the elderly is unthinkable. The tragic truth is that elder abuse is widespread, and the majority of abusers are family members, according to Aging.com.
One all-too-common type of elder abuse comes in the form of financial exploitation. A family member, friend, or caregiver may take advantage of an older adult’s finances for their own gain. It may be up to you to put a stop to it.
Financial abuse of the elderly takes many varied forms, and often includes the forging of signatures, taking money or property, fraud or scams, and coercion or deception. Elderly individuals are often forced to relinquish ownership through wills, deeds, or powers of attorney through threats, intimidation, or fraud at the hands of an abuser who is close to them.
If you believe that an elderly relative or someone you know is being exploited, you can and should speak up about it. There is a hotline run by the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) that provides helpful response and prevention strategies. They coach individuals to look for signs of elder abuse, investigate suspicious situations, and list the many agencies and organizations that can respond to reports of elder abuse.
If you suspect or have evidence of abuse but do not want to speak out publicly, many states’ law enforcement agencies have confidential forms that you can fill out to report suspected abuse. These forms often require you to put down the person’s name, their address, and any details you can give regarding the incident or pattern of suspected abuse. While it is understandable that you may be afraid of the abuser, giving investigators your name and contact information will only help their investigation later, and all information you provide them may be disclosed confidentially.
If there are additional witnesses to the abuse, be sure to include information about who can attest to the exploitation that has been going on, so that the investigators can build the most persuasive case possible. The more details, evidence, and witnesses that investigators can gather, the better chance they have of putting a stop to the abuse by gaining a conviction against the abuser.
Ultimately, while it may be hard to take action, it is crucial that you speak up if you suspect that a senior is being exploited or abused. Whether the nature of the abuse is physical or financial, only those who know what is going on have the power to put a stop to it. Contact law enforcement or agencies that can handle elder abuse as soon as you suspect something may be wrong, and consider speaking to an attorney immediately as well. By taking action and reporting alleged abuse, you could be saving the life and livelihood of someone who does not have the power to protect himself or herself.
If you suspect elder abuse or exploitation is occurring, contact Grimes Teich Anderson, LLP right away. Our experienced elder abuse attorneys can advise you on the best course of action to stop the abuse and hold responsible parties accountable. We serve the Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina areas. Call or contact us online today to request a free case evaluation.