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February 27, 2012

Statistics Show the Elder Abuse is Increasing in Wisconsin

 Statistics show that elder abuse is increasing in Wisconsin
CHUCK JOSEPH Racine County Triad
February 24, 2012

Elder abuse is increasing in Wisconsin, up more than 8 percent annually in recent years. Financial abuse is a significant component of this. Much abuse (79 percent) takes place in the elder's own home, frequently by relatives or in-home caregivers. In about 4 of 10 cases, the abuser is a child of the abused elder. In most of these cases, the elder has done little to protect him or herself prior to the abuse taking place. However, there are some steps to take which not only will protect against financial abuse, but also against financial fraud in general.
Basic protection

There are a number of steps you need to take no matter what your age or situation. These include:
• Use direct deposit service for your income.
• Don't sign blank checks or blank forms of any kind, allowing others to fill them in.
• Don't leave money or valuables in plain sight.
• Do not give your ATM pin to anyone. Cancel it if you do not use it.
• Don't sign anything you do not understand.
• Build a good relationship with the professionals (bankers, brokers) who handle your money, so you have someone to ask for advice. They may also spot unusual activity in your accounts.
These steps will provide immediate protection.
Practice safe banking
Your bank accounts are the door into your money. You need to safeguard them. Keys to building protection for them are:
• Do not establish joint accounts for anyone other than your spouse. Joint accounts allow full access for all parties without the need to notify any other of the parties. All the money can be taken out without your approval or knowledge. If you want the person to inherit the account on your death, you can set up a "Payable on death account" instead.
• Rather than giving someone access to your account to pay bills, you can set up automatic payments directly to the vendor. Talk to your banker to find out how to do this.
• If you do have someone paying your bills, get a trusted third party to review the statements monthly.
• Set up "protected accounts" that limit daily/weekly/monthly withdrawals and will "flag" unusual activity. This will limit your exposure.
• Arrange to have Social Security and pension checks deposited directly into your account.
Extra protection
There are some additional steps to take that can provide protection for you now and in later life:
• Get some extra help if you are feeling pressured, even by a trusted family member, to give up financial control. Talk to someone at your church, your bank, an attorney, or Racine's Aging and Disability Resource Center (262-638-6800, 1-866-219-1043, www.adrc.racineco.com).
• Set up a Power of Attorney for Finance (POA-F). This establishes your financial wishes under a variety of conditions and provides directions to the person you have chosen to make your decisions, your "agent". (You should also have a Power of Attorney for Health Care.) You and your agent should each have a copy, and provide one to your financial and health care providers.
• Keep your financial records private. There are only limited reasons for caregivers to see them.
• It is your money. Do not be afraid to say "no" or to ask advice of a third party.
Where to get help
If you need help, there are a number of places to start at both the county and state levels.
• WI Department of Health Services, 1 W. Wilson St., P.O. Box 7850,
Madison, WI 53707; (608) 266-9622; www.dhs.wisconsin.gov
• Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of Racine County, 1717 Taylor Ave., Racine, WI 53403; (262) 638-6800; www.adrc.racineco.com.

Financial exploitation can rob a person of self-esteem and trust, as well as money. If you need help, start with the places listed above. If you believe financial abuse is taking place, contact the ADRC of Racine County or use the state hotline (1-800-815-0015, www.stopabuse@dhts.state.wius). If there is an immediate health threatening emergency, call 911. Don't hesitate to get involved if you see a serious situation. I am not a lawyer, but state law seems to provide immunity for a good faith reporter.
The Racine County Triad Program was started by the Consumer Fraud Unit of the Racine County Sheriff's Department in response to complaints received involving elderly victims of fraud. This consortium of Racine County law enforcement agencies, senior serving agencies and citizens is a 501C(3) nonprofit organization.
Copyright 2012 JournalTimes.co

 SOURCE:      The Journal Times

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