Not restricted to physical abuse, elders are likely targets of financial fraud and identity theft. They are attractive targets to the perpetrators because elders often have disabilities that make them dependent on others for help. Additionally, restricted individuals are also less likely to take action against their abusers because of a result of embarrassment or health issues. And finally, technology advances have made managing finances easier and quicker for some, but for many elders managing an account online and paying bills online is a daunting task that creates confusion and uncertainty.
Financial abuse can take many forms, including:
- Taking money or property
- Forging an elder’s signature
- Getting an elder to sign a deed, will, or power of attorney through deception or undue influence
- Using property or possessions without permission
- Telemarketing scams
- Promises of lifelong care in exchange for money
- Scams or fraudulent and deceptive acts
- Unfortunately, sometimes family members are the perpetrators especially if they have substance abuse, gambling, or financial problems. They may also have a negative feelings toward their relations or may stand to feel justified in taking what they believe is “almost” or “rightfully” theirs.
Seek help if you or someone you know is the victim of elder financial abuse. The Tribe’s Elder Assistance Program is available to assist anyone over the age of 55. The Rural Aging Resources Specialist—which is in the process of being filled—will oversee this program. The Tribe can offer assistance to elders in the following areas:
- Patient advocacy and support
- Scheduling of medical appointments
- Transportation to and from medical appointments
- Medication management
- Specialty provider referrals
- Assistance with Medicaid, Medicare, and Supplemental Security Income eligibility
- Estate and financial planning assistance
- Monthly luncheons
- Fun and engaging activities
Another way the Tribe is able to help elders is with the Senior Program. Neala Cox, Senior Program Coordinator, works to prepare and deliver nutritious meals to those who are 55 or older and live in the Usk or Cusick community. Cultural activities and transportation are also available. For more information, please contact Neala at (509) 447-7248.