Your parents raised you, taught you right from wrong and shared with you their wisdom. This is why it can be so difficult for you and other New Jersey residents to see your parents age and lose some of their mental faculties. Whether your elderly parent is in the beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease or simply has trouble keeping up with ever-changing technology, the time may come when he or she becomes vulnerable to financial predators.
There is no shortage of scammers who target the elderly and mentally incapacitated. Many are con artists who would attempt to trick your parents into giving their money to a false charity, sweepstakes or home improvement project. Others run complicated phone or internet scams, using threats or fear tactics to convince their targets that they will face legal or financial consequences for not paying up. Some might even be people your parents trust, such as a caregiver or family member.
You might look for the following signs that could indicate financial abuse against your parents:
- An influx of mail requesting or demanding payment for unnecessary or suspicious goods or services
- Emails, voicemails and answering machine messages from telemarketers or phony utility companies asking for payment
- An unexplained inability to meet their monthly expenses
- Checking and savings account statements that show funds are being depleted or transferred to another party
You would hope that monetary scams targeting seniors are uncommon. Unfortunately, the opposite is true, with the National Adult Protective Services Association claiming about one out of every 20 senior citizens have been the victims of unscrupulous people or operations in recent months.
If you suspect your parents’ mental abilities are on the decline and that someone has compromised their assets, you might consider speaking with them about signing over a power of attorney. This would ensure that you can protect their money and take care of their needs.