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Tips for preventing exploitation of older adults

Some older people in Nevada may be at risk of fraud and exploitation. Among people between the ages of 70 and 74, around 12 percent experience mild cognitive impairment. Almost two-thirds of people older than 84 suffer from MCI, and this could make them more vulnerable.

Fraud and exploitation can come from family members. One high profile case involved a famous philanthropist, Brooke Astor, whose grandson reported his father for defrauding her. It is estimated that this type of elder abuse may involve sums between $3 billion and $36 billion annually. Exploitation may involve using guardianships, conservatorships or powers of attorney improperly. Fraud may mean trying to deceive someone regarding financial benefits or goods and services.

Financial institutions may be able to reduce the frequency of this type of crime by encouraging customers to make a plan in case they become incapacitated. This involves appointing a financial power of attorney. People might also want to consult a financial planner. Banks can also take steps to monitor accounts and act if there is any suspicious activity. They should also cooperate with law enforcement and adult protective services.

Some people think of creating an estate plan as making a plan for what happens to their assets after their death, but planning for incapacity is important as well. In addition to a financial power of attorney, a person might also consider a health care power of attorney. This selects someone to make health care decisions on the person's behalf. People may want to discuss their health care and end-of-life care preferences with family members so that the family has a good idea of that person's wishes.

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