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Ways to avoid elder financial abuse


The population of aging Minnesotans is growing, and along with an aging population comes the worry of abuse. There are many unsavory people out there who prey on older Minnesotans. Elder financial abuse continues to be a major problem but there are ways for families to avoid abuse.

It is estimated that up to 10 percent of senior citizens will be the victim of financial abuse. One way to help a loved one not become a victim of abuse is to communicate with them on a consistent basis. It is important to check on their health and activities, along with their spending habits. Continue to remind them to shred receipts, bills and account statements and to not open unknown emails, give out their Social Security Number, etc. If a loved one hires outside help, it can be helpful to be involved in the process.

Families should know their loved one's health care aides and review statements to look for any unusual activity. It can be helpful to have siblings or other family members involved in the financial checks and balances. Family members can divide up who reviews the checking and savings accounts, investment accounts, etc. and switch off every so often to make sure they are ok. Family members may also want to attend meetings with key financial advisors and attorneys with their loved one. Finally, reviewing all financial accounts with a loved one and perhaps streamlining these accounts is a good way to understand what accounts are out there and how these accounts can be managed.

Financial abuse is a scary situation for both seniors and their families. If a family believes their loved one is being taken advantage of, they may want to speak with an attorney who specializes in elder abuse. An attorney can help the family figure out what is going on and resolve the situation before more damage occurs.

No one thinks they will become the victim of financial abuse, but criminals are becoming more creative and many times, trusted friends are the criminals. Keeping a close eye on an aging family member can be helpful in making sure they don't become a victim.

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