As people age, they become more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, particularly in financial matters. The story of Ismael and Angelita Ramirez, an elderly couple in California, serves as a stark reminder of this unfortunate reality. After purchasing their home in 2003, the couple trusted their son’s advice that they didn’t need to include their names on the title. However, their son later transferred the ownership of the house to another person, who subsequently evicted them. This heart-wrenching incident illustrates the need for seniors and their families to take proactive steps to protect themselves from exploitation as they get older. Here are three important ways to avoid falling victim to elder abuse.
1. Appoint a power of attorney (POA): A power of attorney is a legal document that allows an individual to act on your behalf in legal or business matters. By appointing a financial POA, you can have someone you trust manage your financial affairs and make decisions on your behalf. It is crucial to select someone reliable and accountable, as the Ramirezes learned from their unfortunate experience. Inform trusted friends and family members about your POA so they can keep an eye out for any suspicious activities.
2. Keep track of your credit history: Regularly monitoring your financial statements is essential to detecting any unauthorized transactions or fraudulent activities. Look out for suspicious charges, new credit cards, or loans opened under your name. Consider using a credit monitoring service for added security. If you spot any irregularities, notify your bank or credit union immediately so they can investigate and address the issue promptly.
3. Consult a trustworthy financial adviser: Seeking guidance from a reputable financial adviser can be invaluable in managing your finances effectively. However, be diligent in researching and selecting the right adviser. Look into their qualifications, experience, and testimonials. Ask probing questions to assess their suitability for your needs. A trustworthy adviser will prioritize your best interests and help you make informed decisions.
Additionally, there are other measures seniors can take to protect themselves from scams and exploitation. Stay vigilant and informed about common scams targeting older adults, such as cryptocurrency scams, Medicare fraud, and COVID-19-related fraud. Don’t share personal information with unknown individuals, and be wary of “get rich quick” schemes. Lastly, consider creating a living will or medical directive to outline your preferences for healthcare in the event you are unable to communicate them.
Elder abuse, particularly financial exploitation, is a pervasive issue affecting millions of seniors each year. It is crucial for individuals and their families to take proactive steps to prevent these unfortunate incidents. By appointing a reliable power of attorney, monitoring credit history, consulting trustworthy financial advisers, staying alert to scams, and creating a living will, seniors can safeguard their well-being and financial security as they age. Don’t let yourself or your loved ones fall victim to exploitation.