Story provided by Aging Advocates
As we enter this holiday season, think about the hustle and bustle of buying gifts for your loved ones. Feel the stress as it builds up inside, thinking about how you are going to afford everything and keep your sanity. Most of those who take care of their elderly family members know they live on a fixed income with a small social security check. Now, think about what it must be like for Grandma to hear the stress in your voice and a blank stare on your face as you try to have a conversation about the holiday season, and what is in store for you over the next month financially.
Some may not think this is a troubling experience for Grandma, but surprisingly many cases of financial exploitation of the elderly happen around the holiday season. Whether it is by Grandma’s own logical decision-making, or a caregiver who is also their representative slowly draining their checking account, the holidays can be full of anxiety and depression for the elderly amongst us. This generation wants so much to still feel wanted and needed within the family and that is what makes them targets for this abuse, especially during the holidays.
It is very important to know the signs of depression and need to feel included when taking care of an elderly loved one. If they insist on purchasing items or giving money to purchase items, it is the caregiver’s responsibility to determine whether the amount of gift-giving is acceptable for their economic standing. As easy as it may be to take money for little Princess so she can have the Barbie Dreamhouse that she has talked about for the last six months, that is in fact financial exploitation if Grandma cannot cognitively make that financial decision. Grandma so desperately wants to feel connected to you by helping lighten your financial burden as well as feel connected to her granddaughter through extravagant gift-giving outside of her financial means.
The holidays are a happy time of the year for most of the population. In terms of taking care of the elderly in our communities and especially as caregivers of elderly family members, it is our responsibility to protect them from financial exploitation and any and all forms of abuse. For more information on financial exploitation and what to do if you feel an elderly citizen has been financially exploited please visit www.okdhs.org.
About Aging Advocates
Aging Advocates, a group of area businesses and agencies in the Payne County area meet monthly to advocate for older adults. From their experiences, they innovate ideas and raise awareness of older adult issues. It is important to look at the developing needs of the aging population and support, educate, and identify services valuable to a life fully lived.