You’ve been caring for your elderly mom for years making sure her bills are paid and taking her to her doctor’s appointments. But recently you were laid off from your job and bills are piling up. You’re desperate and you think your mom won’t care. And besides, it will be your inheritance anyway, so you take her money as a “loan”.
This may not be a typical example, but elder financial abuse has become a serious problem nationwide. (In Oregon the average loss to a victim is nearly seventeen thousand dollars.) But what is typical is that the victims of financial abuse are more often women than men by nearly a 2:1 margin, and the highest percentage of perpetrators are family members and others that are in a close relationship with the victim.
Elder financial abuse occurs when someone steals money or other things of value from an older person such as stealing an elder’s valuables, using the elder’s cash or credit cards, or taking control of an elder’s power of attorney. The long-term consequences can be devastating. To stop the financial abuse, look for these red flags: significant withdrawals from accounts; unpaid bills or lack of medical care; unnecessary services, goods, or subscriptions; and financial activity the elder couldn't have done.
Any older adult is at risk of financial abuse. But those who are particularly vulnerable are isolated older adults who do not have a trusted person checking on them, who have dementia which limits their ability to make decisions, think clearly, and care for themselves; and those older adults who have found a “New Best Friend” who tries to befriend them and take their money when there is not a trusted friend or family member close by.
But why would anyone take financial advantage of a vulnerable older adult? The perpetrator may feel that the elderly person’s belongings are rightfully theirs through inheritance; the elder will use all their savings and leave nothing for the family, or the abuser wants to keep other family members from inheriting the elderly person’s assets. (I’m the only one who has been caring for mom!) And then there are family members who just feel their mom doesn’t need the money - and they do.
We all want to be trusting of others, but we should also be aware of the consequences when we trust someone who we feel is looking after our best interests – but aren’t.
If you suspect possible financial abuse in Oregon call the local Aging and People with Disabilities office or call Oregon’s toll-free hotline: 1-855-503-SAFE (7233). In Washington contact Washington Adult Protective Services in your community or call 1-866-363-4276.
In today’s Gorge News you’ll find this month’s “Through the Eyes of an Elder” a monthly column where older adults share thoughts and experiences we don’t often hear. This month’s writer is Joel Kabakov who shares his story about aging and the natural wonders of the Gorge.
The name of the television variety show starring Buck Owens and Roy Clark featuring country music and humor was Hee Haw. I received correct answers from Barbara Cadwell, Gene Uczen, Richard Shaw, Pat Still, Dave Lutgens, Doug Nelson, Rhonda Spies, Jess Birge, Keith Clymer, Joan Chantler, Stephen Woolpert, and this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket, Super Duck Mike Kilkenny. Last week I missed Jay Waterbury, Judy and Dave, and Gene Uczen.
This week’s “Remember When” question is from the category - highway literature. From 1925 until 1963 these series of signs were popular along America’s expanding roadway system and usually consisted of six consecutive small signs creating a short catchy verse advertising a particular product. One example was “Listen Birds/ These signs cost money/ So sit a spell/ But don’t get funny”. What was the name of the product advertised on these roadside billboards? E-mail your answer to email@example.com, call 541-296-4788 or leave it inside a case of Vintage Gillette Safety Shaving Razors.
Well, it’s been another week trying to find the energy to do what needs to be done. Until we meet again, it’s been said that it’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up - but getting up sure takes a lot longer these days!
“The past is a good place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.” Author Unknown