The professionals at Ravenswood Care Center, an assisted living facility located in Ravenswood, West Virginia, note that many elderly individuals become vulnerable to scams. They think they are scoring a great deal, when in reality they are signing away all of their assets, leaving their family to pay for their care and to try to help to recover their loved one’s losses. Children of elderly parents must work hard to ensure that their seniors do not fall victim to common scams from those who pray on the elderly.
Elder financial abuse has become a serious concern for the U.S. economy. A new study estimated that financial exploitation cost older adults at least $2.9B from April to June 2010. The report states, “The money that older adults lose in these cases is rarely recovered, and this loss can undermine both the health of older adults and their ability to support and care for themselves.”
The professionals at Ravenswood Care Center are speaking out on this point stating, “When a senior falls prey to one of these scams, it is traumatic and can cause physical and emotional harm. There are also the financial repercussions, where elderly individuals may need to rely more heavily on their children, especially when it comes to paying for care. The situation is devastating for all involved.”
For those whose relatives cannot support them financially, taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for housing and medical care after a senior has been drained financially. The report states that in 80 cases involving elderly individuals in Utah, the state’s Medicaid program had to pay roughly $900,000 just for medical costs for those individuals.
To help keep seniors safe from these situations, law enforcement, the courts, and adult protective services will need to get better at protecting the older population. Certified fraud examiner Steve Lee states that “pre-grave robbing” often goes unreported. He notes that it is an issue that is frequently handled by private investigators, as well as specialists in elder law.
Lee explains, “That phenomenon, taken together with the ever-growing number of seniors, produces unchecked opportunities for scammers.” Lee goes on to state, “The confusion surrounding end-of-life processes and decisions makes not only the senior confused and distracted, but also tends to rock family members back on their heels.”
The team at Ravenswood Care Center reflect on this stating, “More than ever, it’s important that family members step in and help to supervise their loved one’s finances. There’s no need to make them surrender their independence, but support is necessary to ensure that they stay safe and that their assets stay where they’re supposed to be.”
Emma Dickison, the president of Home Helpers, comments on the rising number of seniors who are falling victim to scams explaining, “It is crucial for seniors and their loved ones to be aware of the signs and symptoms of abuse.” She encourages elderly individuals and their family members to pay attention to the signs that a senior may have fallen victim to one of these situations. These indicators include: significant withdrawals from bank accounts, items that have mysteriously vanished from the elderly individual’s home, changes made in a person’s will, purchases of unnecessary goods or services, and financial activity that was done by someone other than the senior.
For those relatives looking to lend protection to their senior, close contact is necessary. Long distance can cause adult children to fall out of touch with their parents’ day-to-day dealings, so regular check-ins are necessary to ensure that nothing has gone awry. Elderly parents can join Facebook and have conversations with their children via Skype. If frequent visits are not possible, a family may want to recruit the aid of a trusted neighbor who can help to check in on the senior from time to time.
Responsible family members should help their elderly loved ones put measures in place to discourage theft. For example, the elderly individual should have a guardian or conservator appointed for their benefit. There should also be co-agents under the power of attorney, to ensure that someone has oversight.
The professionals at Ravenswood Care Center encourage families to remain vigilant about possible scams and fraud, and to talk to their seniors about these situations so they know how to identify potentially dangerous financial dealings.
Ravenswood Care Center is a family owned business that was started about 50 years ago. A staff of around 50 professionals serves roughly 80 residents, meaning that these seniors get personalized care. The facility is located just a few blocks from the Ohio River, and offers independent living in private or dual occupancy suites. For those with medical conditions or disabilities, care is available twenty-four hours a day, delivered by registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and certified nurses aides. The center bridges the gap between independent living and a nursing home.