Can Doctors Protect Retirees from Fraud?

As more and more information emerges about the true scope of senior financial exploitation, senior care advocates are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to tackling the problem. The latest statistics from MetLife suggest that, amazingly, one out of every five seniors over 65 years old have already be victimized financially in some way. At a general level it seems that prevention can take three forms: better educate seniors to stop it, better educate interested third parties to identify problems, and improve law enforcement efforts to catch wrongdoers.

Ensuring seniors are able to spot scams themselves seems like an obvious way to cut the problem significantly. However, that comes with many challenges, because the entire issue is rooted in seniors inherent vulnerability. Those with early stages of Alzheimer’s and other dementias are often the most at risk of being taken advantage of. For that reason, many suspect that intervention of third parties, like elder law attorneys and financial professionals, is crucial.

New Advocate to Prevent New York Elder Fraud
Interestingly, some are now suggesting that medical doctors may play a critical role in tackling the problem. At first blush this may not make much sense. After all, ,doctors are concerned about their patient’s health, not their finances. What role could they play in identifying and preventing this exploitation? Plenty.

As a Market Watch story explains, a program that involves training doctors has proven successful in minimizing senior financial abuse. The Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation program was launched in 2009. It involves the training of thousands of doctors to ask general, but helpful questions when their senior patients visited for appointments. Considering the frequency with which seniors have medical appointments, it is natural place for basic inquiries about their financial situation to be tested.

As part of the program the doctors ask questions like:

-Have you given power of attorney to another person?
-Has someone asked you to change your will recently?
-Do you run out of money at the end of the month?

If suspicions are raised, the medical professional then refers the senior to another who can help, depending on the specific problem. By the end of the year, those working on the program hope than more than 15,000 medical professionals across the country will be trained. An online training course is being developed which will hopefully allow many more professionals to become advocates in this fight, steering seniors to the help they need when financial mistreatment is at issue.

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