Elder financial abuse on the rise

Investigators

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Talking about finances can be difficult. For one midstate man, it was even worse.

Mike Dolin says his 79-year-old mother granted a family member her power of attorney, and that person took advantage – to the tune of $170,000.

Mike and his wife discovered something was wrong when they tried to help his mom apply for assistance through the Veteran’s Administration. When they looked at her accounts, “we realized then she didn’t really have any money,” says Mike.

They also discovered the person granted power of attorney was using her money to pay for a camper.

Officials say elder abuse often happens when there is cognitive impairment – like dementia, isolation, or a fear of being left alone. “If they are afraid their child will no longer communicate with them if they don’t hand over money then you would see people do things that you wouldn’t otherwise expect,” says elder law attorney Craig Hatch. He suggests choosing a power of attorney who is accountable and available, meaning they live close by.

It’s possible for the person granted the power of attorney to share information with others in the family. “You can set it up so that they can access the account but not do any financial transactions,” Hatch says.

Mike’s mom is now in assisted living. He and his wife are helping with her finances.

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging is in the process of completing a study of financial exploitation of adults. It should be released within the next month.

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