Simply being a regular presence in your parents’ lives can go a long way toward safeguarding them from financial exploitation. It’s far easier to detect signs of financial abuse firsthand. So if you live close enough, visit often – it’ll give you a chance to gauge how they’re doing physically, emotionally and financially. Unpaid bills, excessive spending, or other changes in behavior can all be red flags. Ensuring that your parents’ financial wishes are documented before dementia or other cognitive issues arise is perhaps the most crucial step toward preventing financial abuse. That means having tough conversations early and often. While the rate of elder financial abuse by caregivers is a relatively small piece of the overall pie, these professionals are in a unique position to perpetrate the crime. Loewy noted that there are “bad apples everywhere,” and there’s no guarantee that the person hired to care for your parent will be one of the good ones. Still, there are a number of things you can do to help prevent abuse by hired caregivers. For in-home caregivers, it’s generally best to go through a licensed agency that conducts criminal background checks. Ask them about the screening process they use. While the Internet can be a channel to perpetrate scams (from phishing scams to emails from alleged foreign princes) it also offers tools to help guard against financial abuse.
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