Retirement & Financial Planning Report

With financial abuse of the elderly a large and growing problem, the federal Administration on Aging is urging persons with elderly relatives or to be watchful for possible financial exploitation.

“Seniors are living longer, but not necessarily better. Potential declines in cognitive and physical functions could make them more vulnerable to victimization,” the agency says, estimating that persons age 65 and older lose at least $2.9 billion annually to financial abuse.

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It says the best way to discover what is going on is to visit and otherwise stay in touch with the relative or friend. Warning signs include:

* lack of affordable amenities and comforts in an elder’s home

* giving uncharacteristically excessive gifts or financial reimbursement for needed care and companionship

* a caregiver has control of an elder’s money but fails to provide for the elder’s needs, or

* an older adult has signed property transfers (power of attorney or will, for example) but is unable to comprehend what the transaction means.