Financial abuse can happen to any senior, whether in Menlo Park, San Jose, Walnut Creek, or any city in the San Francisco Bay Area or across the nation. Whether you're a senior or the adult child of an aging parent, would you know if something fishy was going on financially? According to a recent survey of caregivers, financial abuse occurs on a daily and even hourly basis. AARP's Chief Public Policy Officer, Debra Whitman, said that while approximately 37% of seniors have been the victims of financial abuse, the majority of families believe it will never happen to them.
Allianz Life has found that, of those who are elderly and abused financially, victims lose on average approximately $36,000. Surveys conducted by other companies have determined the rate can be even higher than that. Whitman said that for seniors, even a small loss can impact not only financial stability and security, but health as well. Even worse, many elderly people who fall for schemes that impact them financially suffer from shame, stress, and other mental or emotional trauma, which can have a huge impact on health - sometimes resulting in death.
Why the increase in senior financial abuse? One of the biggest reasons the number of victims is growing is because there are currently more seniors among the population than ever before. According to reports, the number of aging adults who suffer from Alzheimer's disease also impacts the number of those who are vulnerable. It is estimated that nearly 5 1/2 million in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the disease, which can have a profound impact on the senior's ability to make smart financial decisions.
Doctors claim that even in those who do not have dementia, the fact that the brain ages as humans do means that people have a harder time making financial decisions that are sound. According to Weill Cornell Medical College Co-Chief of Geriatrics and Gerontology, Mark Lachs, seniors often suffer from age-associated financial vulnerability.
What can seniors do to avoid becoming a victim of financial abuse? Be extremely careful regarding who you talk to, answering the phone, and responding to emails that request any information that's personal. With the growing number of telephone scams and "robo" calls, seniors should realize that they could easily be taken advantage of by scammers who are not their friends. Those who are aging are advised never to give out personal information, and to have a loved one or close family member helping monitor the situation - an extra pair of eyes, so to speak.
When a telephone call or email appears suspicious or you suspect it is a scam, chances are it is. Seniors can also subscribe to monitoring services who scan data on a daily basis, including financial and credit records, to identify any possible fraud or suspicious activity immediately.
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