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Beware of financial abuse of Michigan senior citizens

The elderly population is one that often needs help from younger generations to handle a variety of situations. When help is needed, the elderly person usually calls on someone he or she trusts to help. For some of the elderly people who trust others to help them with financial matters, criminal abuse might occur.

According to Alliance for Health, around 80,000 elderly people in Michigan fall victim to criminal abuse of some sort. One of the most common types is financial abuse, such as embezzlement or fraud. While it is easy to associate that type of behavior with professional criminals, a lot of times close family members are the ones who take advantage of the elderly.

A lot of the cases that occur aren't reported. Sometimes, the failure to report is due to embarrassment. Other times, it is because the victim isn't mentally aware enough to know the situation needs to be reported. There are even cases in which the elderly person doesn't realize that the person is defrauding them, such as if the elderly person pays someone close to them an exorbitant amount to do chores.

When instances of embezzlement or financial fraud are occurring, handling the situation gently is often the best way to show the elderly person your concern. Being harsh or accusatory might make the elderly person feel backed into a corner, which might push them closer to the person stealing from them.

This issue highlights the need for elderly people to have trustworthy people who have powers of attorney over their finances when necessary. Anyone who is completing estate planning documents should ensure they understand what each document means. Seeking help from someone with ample experience in Michigan elder care laws might help to get answers to questions or clarifications about confusing issues.

Source: grbj.com, "West Michigan’s elderly are falling victim to financial abuse" Pete Daly, Feb. 21, 2014

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