This weekend, we sent our camera to the Aging in Place seminar, sponsored in part by KHON2, to learn about the services available for seniors as they age.
One area of concern is kupuna who may develop dementia, and how that can affect their financial standing.
“When someone is first diagnosed with dementia, that is the time to prevent the crime from happening. That is the time when you get your fiscal house in order. The time to see a money manager, when you take care of that will and trust.” Honolulu prosecutor’s office Scott Spallina said.
While it is important to take care of the senior, it’s just as important for the family to agree on how to move forward.
“Siblings arguing with each other saying, Mom wanted me to have this or I deserve this. And that’s the terrible part about dementia and elder abuse is that it does tear families apart.” Spallina said.
Once the family agrees on someone who should have power of attorney, Spallina says it’s important to check financial accounts often.
“Even if it’s a week from the beginning of the abuse to the end of the abuse, in just one week, we’ve seen bank accounts being cleared out of tens of thousands of dollars.” Spallina said.
Spallina says our kupuna can be vulnerable – especially when dementia is a factor.
“They’re the best targets because they do have this wealth, they do have these assets. They spent their entire life earning this and now they can no longer manage their finances. So that makes them a target for family members, for con artists, for strangers, for neighbors.” Spallina said.
Another message that was passed on during the Aging in Place workshop this weekend – if you suspect that a senior in your family is being taken advantage of – call the police immediately.
Spallina said his staff is busy – the incidence of elder financial abuse has been on the increase for the past six years.