Protect Older Relatives from Theft and Fraud

I view self-defense and personal protection as including many facets and categories. Maybe it’s the police officer in me, or that I simply like people. But I also look to see how I can protect others as I have developed the skills and ability to protect myself.

Working in law enforcement, one of the things that I never realized was so prevalent was theft crimes and scams targeting the elderly. These crimes often hit closer to home than most realize.

These are the stories about how your Great-Aunt Sylvie’s no-good son was draining her bank account while keeping her a prisoner in her home, or how a widowed neighbor in the early stages of dementia was robbed by the drug addict son of the gardener.

Here are a few suggestions from AARP that you should consider if you are concerned about the welfare of an aging parent or relative:

• Stay connected. Isolation makes the vulnerable among us easy prey. If you are unable to visit with elderly relatives during the week, make sure you are checking in often by phone and through social media or video if possible. Apps like FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, and others allow you to connect in real time. This will make it easier to assess your loved one’s health, well-being, and living environment.

• Keep an eye on caregivers. Personally interview and check the references for anyone assigned to care for your relative in their home. Keep an inventory of jewelry and other valuables or keep those items locked in a secure location. Make a surprise visit during a time when the caregiver is scheduled to be there to gain insight on whether the arrangement is working.

• Create a system of checks and balances. Get power of attorney to handle the medical and financial aspects of your loved one’s care, but remember that those and other financial responsibilities can be shared to keep everyone accountable and informed of what is happening. It’s important to note that a relative with a history of substance abuse, gambling, or money problems is not a suitable candidate to enlist for any of these matters.

Have any tips of your own? I’d love to hear them, leave them in the comments section!

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