The number of families who will be involved with care of a senior with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia is staggering. In 2016, more than five million Americans were living with the debilitating disease, for which there is no cure and only limited treatment.
WTTW.com’s recent article, “For Caregivers, Dealing with Dementia Can Be Tough Reality,” explains that for loved ones, the reality of managing the care and financial affairs of a senior with diminished mental capacity can be an extremely stressful. Unfortunately, tales of exploitation and abuse are not uncommon.
Doctors say that unusual behavior can be an early sign that a person may be suffering from some form of mental decline or impairment. Examples of this are getting lost while driving in a familiar area or wearing dirty clothes when the senior has previously been meticulous about his or her dress. The symptoms of Alzheimer’s become more apparent as time goes on. This can often be a source of discord among family members, because it’s painful to acknowledge that parents are declining and are not behaving as they used to. This denial sometimes creates tension.
With the cost of care and the burden it frequently puts on the family, communication and preparation are critical. Advance planning can’t be stressed enough, since roughly 60% of family caretakers use a portion of their own funds to cover the cost of care.
Caregiver abuse is also common in financial abuse cases where the typical scenario is an older adult left one-on-one with a 24/7 caregiver. Women sometimes will take advantage of elderly men in what develops into an intimate relationship.
Often the caregiver may encourage the senior to sign documents to transfer funds or property. Any kind of assets that can be transferred through only one signature, are particularly vulnerable to financial elder abuse. Family members need to remain in close proximity with the senior to protect them from exploitation by paid caregivers. There are also many cases of financial elder abuse by family members. A group effort from the family with a great deal of communication may be helpful in keeping everyone accountable.
Reference: WTTW.com (February 13, 2017) “For Caregivers, Dealing with Dementia Can Be Tough Reality”