Canada’s population is aging, and with it comes a number of seniors’ issues which will become more and more prevalent in our society. Statistics Canada estimates that over the next 20 years we will have more than 11 million Canadians over the age of 65. Unfortunately, this means cases of elder abuse are on the rise. In the U.S., the National Centre on Elder Abuse reports that incidents of financial exploitation have been identified in 41 per 1,000 seniors surveyed. Family members were the most likely to commit abuse, at 58%, follow by friends and neighbours at 17%, and home-care aides at 15%. Because of all this, the Canadian financial services regulators are paying a lot more attention to this issue and developing strategies to identify and reduce elder financial abuse. Investment Executive published some key red flags to watch out for:
- A Power of Attorney who appears inappropriate, such as someone at arms length, or even a younger relative if they are known to be financially irresponsible
- The senior indicates that they do not have full control of, or access to, their own money
- A sudden or unexplained change in transaction patterns
- A new individual becomes involved in the seniors financial affairs
- The senior becomes inaccessible by direct contact
- An unexpected mailing address change
A proper Power of Attorney is probably one of the most important things that can be done, as they will be a first point of contact should the seniors health begin to decline.
Now there are many perfectly legitimate reasons that any of the above could happen. But with increasing fraud and abuse it pays to be extra diligent and ask the extra questions. And heck, you should probably call and talk to your elders anyway, they would love to hear from you!