Tips To Help You Protect Yourself From Elder Abuse During Retirement

Cindy Cummings

On June 15th every year, the world observes World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. Sadly, the World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 6 people aged 60 and older have experienced some form of elder abuse. Yet, only 1 in 14 incidences of elder abuse is reported.

For the U.S., this equates to more than half a million cases each year and millions more that are unreported. This indicates just how widespread the issue is amongst the retirement community. In addition to the potential physical and financial consequences, retirees who experience elder abuse can go on to have long-lasting emotional effects, making the dream of an easy retirement much more difficult. With the incidences of elder abuse rapidly climbing, taking steps to protect yourself during your retirement has now become a must to avoid losing your independence, financial freedom, and idyllic retirement dream.

Educate Yourself And Your Trusted Circle On What Counts As Elder Abuse

A large part of protecting yourself against elder abuse is recognizing the warning signs. Elder abuse can occur in a long term institution or even in the comfort of your own home. Social isolation and increased anxiety are some common signs of elder abuse so ensure you surround yourself with a strong, reliable support network in your retirement. Elder abuse can also take the form of physical, emotional, financial abuse, or neglect.

Get to know the signs of each category as they can look different in each case. For instance, physical abuse and neglect may involve causing bodily harm or failing to provide a basic standard of care like ignoring to help a senior with basic hygiene and tend to be common in nursing home abuse cases. Occurrences like these often leave these facilities vulnerable to a potential lawsuit, particularly if you can provide evidence so it helps to know what to look for.

Know Where To Turn For Help

Many incidences of elder abuse go unreported because retirees or their families do not know where to turn for help or the protocol for reporting elder abuse.

One of your first confiding points if you suspect you are a victim of elder abuse is to a family member or friend that you can trust. There are also multiple helplines available that are dedicated to protecting seniors as they get older including the Eldercare Locator helpline and a directory of state resources provided by the National Center on Elder Abuse.

Alternatively, you can call 911 to report a case of elder abuse.

Get A Financial Team In Place For Your Finances Post Retirement

One of the most common forms of elder abuse targeting retirees today is financial abuse. Around 1 in 5 seniors experience financial fraud or abuse. In fact, it is not uncommon to find scams and schemes targeting seniors due to their declining financial capability. According to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, 71 percent of care managers say financial abuse is a growing issue.

At any age, having an expert financial advice team is a perk. As an investor, they are there to advise you on the feasibility and validity of investment options, or how to get the best return on your retirement portfolio based on your risk appetite. They also provide a needed sounding board for financial decisions such as investing in the popular financial scams targeting seniors like healthcare/insurance scams, funeral planning scams, or pyramid investment schemes. A great tip is to build on the relationship with your current financial teams like your banker or investment advisor. Since they have already successfully managed your finances and know your patterns, they can spot irregular activities.

You may also want to consider finalizing a legal guardianship. While you may not need it immediately after retiring early, it could come in handy later on as you enter your older years and find your ability to manage your finances or daily life diminishing. Having these legal boxes ticked while you are still able to make it much easier to protect yourself when you become vulnerable to elder abuse of any kind.

Like any other preparations you make for your retirement, take steps to protect yourself should be part of the preparation package. Keeping yourself and your finances safe is part of taking care of yourself in retirement and that involves protecting yourself from elder abuse. Build a strong support network, get familiar with what elder abuse looks like, and get to know where to go for help. Taking these steps sooner rather than later could make all the difference in the experience you have as a retiree, and with elder abuse.

About Retire Early Lifestyle

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired three decades ago at the age of 38 and began traveling the world. As recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel, they have been interviewed about retirement issues by The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, The Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter, nationally syndicated radio talk shows and countless newspapers and TV shows nationally and worldwide. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement (Your Simple Path to FIRE) and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
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