It’s a sad reality that in the past year roughly one in six seniors have experienced some form of abuse with one of the most prevalent forms being financial abuse and exploitation.
“It’s unfortunate that some seniors are targeted because of their increased vulnerability; they may have declining physical or mental health,” says Kevin Haarhoff, an investigator with the corporate security team at Envision Financial, a division of First West Credit Union.
As we approach World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, Haarhoff recommends these tips to protect your loved ones.
Be involved and visit regularly
It’s all too easy for seniors to slip into isolation. While emotionally damaging, this also creates the opportunity for fraudsters to build a trusting relationship for financial gain.
“Being an active participant in the lives of loved ones will help you detect signs of abuse early,” says Haarhoff. “Sadly abuse can often come from a caregiver, friend or family member so it’s important to also be aware of who they interact with on a regular basis.”
Have open conversations
Personal finance is often perceived as an awkward topic for conversation, but it doesn’t have to be. When these important financial discussions are ignored, your aging loved ones may have to deal with hardships that could have been avoided.
“The safe storage of documents and passwords and the value of having a will and estate plan are important subjects to broach,” says Haarhoff. “Have these conversations early and often, so it’s more comfortable for the older adults in your life to ask for help.”
Should you feel someone in your life is being abused or mistreated, contact Seniors First BC via the Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL) toll-free at: 1-866-437-1940.