After you evaluate home security, and your loved one’s physical safety at home, you may need to consider how vulnerable they are to financial abuse. Is someone borrowing money, or offering to help them around the house for an unreasonable fee?
I met a client who needed to move into a senior living community. She was taking care of her husband at home, and she never got away from the house because he couldn’t be left alone. Their home was older, and they couldn’t keep up with the repairs. Because of their limited resources, they would have qualified for Medicaid, which would have given them some senior living options. My client refused to discuss it. Nothing would get her to even consider it. It just didn’t make sense. But she wouldn’t budge.
Something was clearly wrong…
When you apply for Medicaid, you undergo a 5 year “look-back”. The purpose is to make sure you haven’t given money away to hide your resources or avoid spending it on your care. This kind lady had recently given 15,000 to a relative as a “loan”. She had promised not to tell other family members. She didn’t want her relative to get in trouble or have her forced to repay the “loan”, so she was stuck.
Kelly M Bentley is an elder care attorney in Texas. She was quoted in an interview as saying, “Most fraud isn’t committed by third parties. Most fraud is committed by family members. Or a really friendly neighbor…”
Although family members are more likely to take advantage of kind hearted elderly people, there are some cases of strangers doing so as well. Think of the many appeals for money to “feed starving children” or free steak dinners that include an investment pitch.
Protecting Your Loved Ones from Fraud
You may feel uncomfortable confronting financial issues with a parent or loved one, but it’s important that they have resources to pay for their care as they continue to age. It’s rarely the person who was given the money that will assume responsibility for their care down the road.
If your loved one is mentally competent there isn’t much you can do. If they are confused or experiencing memory loss you can report exploitation of a vulnerable adult to Adult Protective Services. In some cases, a financial planner or trust officer should be consulted.
Ask Yourself What You’d Want
How would you want to be treated if you were the victim and your children were concerned? Would you appreciate someone stepping in on your behalf to protect you from making bad decisions? How would you like to be approached?
Consider asking your parent or loved one how you can help them down the road if you sense something is “off” and you want to help. Having these conversations now can save you and your loved one confusion and uncertainty in the future.
If you’re concerned about your aging loved one’s safety, please contact me. I can help you determine the best solution for their care and safety.