Elder abuse in any form can be difficult to detect. While signs of physical abuse may be visible via physical and emotional symptoms, there is another form of abuse that is much more difficult to detect with the elderly, that of financial exploitation.
Financial abuse can involve family members, caregivers or others stealing from a senior citizen. Other abuse may involve scams that target elderly victims. Some of the signs to watch with elderly loved ones include:
- A new caregiver or ‘friend’ who isolates the victim from friends and family;
- Frequent and/or large cash withdrawals;
- Different handwriting and signatures on checks or other financial documents;
- Large or numerous credit card transactions to unexplained sources;
- The disappearance of valuables from the home;
- Emotional symptoms such as fear of a caregiver;
- Names added to bank accounts or joint ownerships;
- New credit cards, loans or bank accounts opened by a senior citizen.
In Colorado, you may request a temporary restraining order to help protect a vulnerable elderly victim from further exploitation while the matter is investigated. You should also contact your local Adult Protective Services, state attorney general’s office, along with the police to report the crime. Since the wheels of justice turn slowly, there should be steps taken in the interim to avoid further financial issues, perhaps with a durable power of attorney document or a conservatorship to guard against future issues.
An elder law attorney can help you the through the process and ensure your loved one’s rights are protected, while using estate planning tools to avoid future exploitation.