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Protecting Our Seniors: Elder Abuse Awareness and Estate Planning

a concerned older man

June 15 marks an important day on our calendar – World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). This day, officially recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 2011, is dedicated to highlighting one of the worst manifestations of ageism and inequality in our society: elder abuse. Communities worldwide unite to bring attention to the challenges faced by older adults and our collective responsibility to protect and support them.

At Krugler Law, we are committed to shedding light on elder abuse, including the critical aspect of financial exploitation, and providing strategies to safeguard our seniors.

Understanding Elder Abuse

Abuse can happen anywhere, including in the older person’s home, a family member’s home, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home. The mistreatment of older adults can be by family members, strangers, health care providers, caregivers, or friends. It can take many forms, including:

  • Physical Abuse: Inflicting bodily harm or injury.

  • Emotional Abuse: Causing mental distress through verbal or non-verbal acts.

  • Financial Exploitation: Unauthorized use of an elder’s financial resources.

  • Neglect: Failing to provide necessary care.

  • Sexual Abuse: Non-consensual sexual contact.

Elder abuse is a global social issue affecting the health, well-being, independence, and human rights of millions of older people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), prevalence rates exist only in selected developed countries, ranging from 1 to 10 percent. Although the extent of elder mistreatment is unknown, its social and moral significance is obvious.

Key Facts About Elder Abuse

  1. It Happens Mostly at Home: Elder abuse instances happen mostly in the home where the senior lives.

  2. 1 in Every 10: One in every ten older adults experiences some form of abuse in their lifetime.

  3. Finances Are at the Highest Risk: The most common form of abuse is financial exploitation and extortion.

  4. 9 out of 10 Elder Abusers Are Relatives: In around 90% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member.

  5. Many Go Unreported: According to the US Department of Justice, only one in 24 cases of elder abuse is every reported.

Recognizing Financial Exploitation

Financial exploitation involves the misuse of an elder’s assets. Key indicators include:

  • Unexpected changes in bank accounts or estate documents.

  • Unexplained withdrawals or spending.

  • Unpaid bills despite having sufficient funds.

How to Protect the Seniors in Your Life

  • Stay Informed: Learn the signs of financial exploitation.

  • Communicate: Discuss financial matters openly with elderly family members.

  • Report Suspicions: If you suspect abuse, contact adult protective services, law enforcement, or the relevant financial institutions.

  • Discuss Finances: Have conversations about financial planning and management with your aging parents.

Tips for Seniors to Protect Themselves

  • Stay Connected: Maintain relationships with family and stay active in the community.

  • Review Finances Regularly: Get help from trusted family members, financial advisors, or attorneys.

  • Know Your Rights: Understand your legal rights and resources, including the use of legal tools like powers of attorney and wills.

  • Designate a Trusted Contact: Appoint someone trustworthy to help monitor your accounts.

  • Seek Professional Advice: Consult professionals when making significant financial, legal, or health decisions.

  • Protect Personal Information: Avoid sharing sensitive information such as Social Security, credit card, or bank account numbers over the phone or email.

Using Estate Planning to Prevent Elder Abuse

Effective estate planning can serve as a protective measure against elder abuse:

  • Durable Power of Attorney: Appoint a trusted person to handle financial matters.

  • Health Care Proxy: Designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.

  • Trusts: Use trusts to manage and protect assets.

  • Guardianship: Establish guardianship arrangements to safeguard against incapacity.

Elder Abuse Awareness Day reminds us of our duty to protect our seniors. Through vigilance and proactive estate planning, we can help ensure the safety and dignity of our elderly loved ones. At Krugler Law, we are dedicated to safeguarding the rights and well-being of seniors. If you have concerns about elder abuse or need assistance with estate planning, contact us today to schedule a consultation. Let’s work together to create a plan that protects your loved ones and provides peace of mind for your family.


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