The rapid aging of the United States population is amazing to behold, with the oldest old being the fastest growing group among us. Though living a long and robust life is the goal, when you reach an advanced age certain possible challenges loom. You can approach this one of two ways. You can keep your head in the sand and pretend that these possibilities don’t exist, or you can be proactive about accepting them and doing everything you can to be prepared come what may.
If the second approach sounds more logical to you, you would do well to consider the emerging issue of elder financial abuse. One of the pitfalls of reaching an advanced age is the fact that dementia becomes a very real possibility, with upwards of half of people who reach the age of 85 suffering from dementia. This makes some of these individuals prime targets for financial abusers, and sadly the majority of these perpetrators are family members or trusted advisers. The MetLife Mature Market Institute estimates that approximately $2.6 billion a year is usurped by elder financial abusers.
This number may be higher because of the fact that most of the cases of elder financial abuse that take place go unreported. It has been estimated that only about 4% of instances of elder financial abuse are ever reported to authorities. The reasons for this include embarrassment at having been bilked, protecting a family member or friend, and simply being unaware of the fact that you are a victim of abuse.
The key to protecting yourself from elder financial abuse is to recognize that the possibility exists and to discuss the matter openly with those that you trust. In addition, your elder law attorney can implement legal strategies that mitigate your exposure to elder financial abuse, and this is something that you can discuss the next time you are reviewing your estate plan.