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Elder law: Combatting financial elder abuse

Senior citizens are among the most vulnerable sector in society. There are many ways in which elders in Colorado might be taken advantage of, but among the most prevalent is financial abuse. Thankfully, elder law in the state speaks to this issue and strives to protect elders from abuse. Sadly, however, abuse does occur. Financial abuse happens when family members, friends or caregivers take advantage of an elder’s resources, but there are ways to safeguard against these situations. 

How can financial abuse occur? 

Some seniors suffer from conditions that impede their thinking such as Alzheimer’s or dementia. In these cases, seniors may need help in a number of ways, one of which includes managing their finances. Here are some ways financial elder abuse may occur: 

  • Abusing power of attorney 
  • Stealing an senior’s valuable 
  • Using an elder’s cash or credit cards 

Unfortunately, this type of abuse may be more difficult to pinpoint  physical abuse in particular — since it leaves no visible signs, but it can have an emotional impact on a senior. Financial abuse can be particularly devastating since it can leaves seniors in an even more vulnerable position. They may even lose their life savings, and may no longer be able to afford nursing home care, rent or even basic necessities. It can cause seniors to become anxious or depressed. 

How can the law help? 

There are state and federal laws in place that intend to keep elders sheltered from abuse. In Colorado, an at-risk elder is defined as someone over the age of 70. Elder law requires that anyone who knows of or suspects that a senior is being abused, report it to the proper authorities. That can include adult protective services, law enforcement, financial institutions or ombudsmen. 

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