April 2020: Seniors face greater health risks with COVID-19 as well as greater isolation and abuse risks. Many safety checks – such as regular friend or family visits– have ended.
While many have stepped up to help, most with best of intentions, a small segment of “helpers” have other ideas.
Ask questions to help assess any potential for abuse. How are they feeling, both mentally and physically? Do they have the care and support they need? How is their family being impacted? Are they worried about their finances, or those of family members? Are they giving or loaning money to children who aren’t working?
While you can’t always predict who are most vulnerable, there can be warning signs: Capacity issues: seniors with an overly trusting personality or declining mental capabilities; New relationships like a “new friend” or a “sweetheart” appears or a previously distant family members becomes involved in their life; Caregiver takes on additional roles like handling day-to-day finances; Being “coached” by someone to request unusual withdrawals, or investment or beneficiary changes.
If you suspect the financial abuse of a senior consider contacting a trusted family member, their power of attorney, the Public Trustees office, or even the police.