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Holidays are a great time to discuss important topics with older relatives

Dec. 13, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

It's the holidays -- and that time of the year where we look forward to visits and sharing time with friends, family and loved ones. It's also a time when our Agency likes to encourage families to spend time discussing important issues that might be affecting Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, or other family members or friends.

During this time, we encourage families to pay particular attention to situations where it might seem that a family member or special friend's health may be declining. If so, perhaps they might need some help and assistance to remain safe and independent at home? Our Agency is here to help you find the resources in your community that can assist your loved ones with accomplishing their wish to stay in their own home.

In addition, we are joining Eldercare Locator and their 10th Annual Home for the Holidays campaign. Eldercare Locator is a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging that is administered by our national association, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a). This year, the campaign encourages older adults, caregivers, and their families to use their time together this holiday season to discuss and become informed about strategies to prevent financial exploitation. The National Center on Elder Abuse partnered with the Eldercare Locator to produce a consumer guide that is now available to help inform this discussion with seniors during the holiday season. The Area Agency on Aging District 7 is supporting the campaign by raising awareness for the issue and encouraging families to take steps to prevent financial exploitation this holiday season. You can review the financial exploitation brochure by visiting our website at www.aaa7.org. At the bottom of the home page, there will be an ad and link to a copy of the brochure entitled "Protect Your Pocketbook."

There are several signs of financial exploitation for families to look out for, including financial activity that is inconsistent with an older adult's past financial history; confusion about recent financial arrangements; changes to key documents that have not been authorized; a caregiver or beneficiary who refuses to use designated funds for necessary care and treatment of an older adult; and older adults who feel threatened by a caregiver or another individual who is seeking to control their finances.

Families that are concerned about financial exploitation should report the issue to state agencies that deal with protecting the safety and well-being of older adults, such as our AAA7 Ombudsman Program, which can be reached at 1-800-582-7277. The campaign, which encourages older adults and their families to plan and be cautious, released tips to help prevent financial exploitation, some of which include:

Have an estate plan in place. Talk with an attorney about creating a durable power of attorney for asset management; a living will; a revocable, or living, trust; and healthcare advance directives.

Learn how to avoid fraud and scams at www.stopfraud.gov/protect.html.

Consult with a trusted person before making any large purchases or investments.

Do not provide personal information (i.e. Social Security number, credit card, ATM PIN number) over the phone unless you placed the call and know with whom you are speaking.

If you hire someone to help you in your home, ensure that they have been properly screened with criminal background checks completed. Ask for certifications when appropriate.

For more information about financial exploitation or to learn more about home and community-based resources in your community and county, please do not hesitate to contact us at 1-800-582-7277.

Pamela K. Matura is the executive director, Area Agency on Aging District 7.

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