If you have an aging parent in your life, you are most likely aware of some of the challenges that lie ahead. Estate planning matters, decisions about long-term care, and other practicalities can be difficult to navigate, especially if your loved one seems hesitant to discuss these issues. While it’s important to encourage your aging parent to take steps to protect their future and their legacy, you should also look out for potential signs of elder abuse, particularly regarding financial exploitation. Older individuals are particularly vulnerable to financial scammers or those who may attempt to exert undue influence over your loved one. Let’s take a look at some potential signs of financial exploitation and undue influence so that you can get ready to defend your aging family member, should the need arise.
Recognizing Elder Abuse in Washington State
Washington state law defines a vulnerable adult as a person who is 60 years or older and is unable to care for himself or herself due to incapacitation or developmental disability, has been admitted to any facility, or who is receiving services from hospice, home health, individual provider, or other agency. Vulnerable adults are particularly susceptible to elder abuse, which can take a variety of forms. Common signs of elder abuse include unexplained injuries, fear of a specific person or situation, persistent isolation, physical neglect, or other noticeable changes in behavior. While physical signs of abuse may be easier to recognize, financial exploitation is a form of elder abuse that unfortunately afflicts many vulnerable adults.
Signs of Financial Exploitation and Undue Influence
Manipulative individuals may prey upon vulnerable adults, subtly using them to acquire money or assets for personal gain. For instance, an exploiter may forge checks, make fraudulent changes to a vulnerable adult’s will or trust, commit credit card, bank account, or real estate fraud, or otherwise attempt to steal financial assets from a vulnerable adult. While some of these activities can be completed through phone or email scams, an individual can assume the guide of a trusted caregiver and slowly exert undue influence over a vulnerable adult. If you notice that a new caregiver suddenly appears in your aging parent’s life and seems to control their lifestyle, limit their communication with friends and family members, or attempts to isolate the vulnerable adult in some way, you may suspect that this person is taking advantage of—or outright exploiting—your loved one.
Protecting Your Aging Loved One
It’s always a good idea to discuss your concerns with a trusted elder law attorney. Even if you simply have an inkling that your loved one may be at risk of exploitation or abuse, it’s best to take action and explore your options for keeping them safe. Talk to your loved one about your concerns, and make sure they are aware of manipulative individuals or abusers who may try to exploit them. The more proactive steps you can take to protect your loved one, the more likely it is that they will avoid victimization—or, if an issue arises, you’ll be ready to address it right away.
To learn more about how to protect an aging loved one from financial exploitation or elder abuse, contact Legacy Law Group today at (509) 315-8087 to speak to a dedicated and compassionate Spokane Valley attorney.