According to the National Council on Aging, “[f]inancial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered ‘the crime of the 21st century.’” (See NCOA Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors). As the U.S. population ages, scammers have an ever growing group of potential victims.

Threats to seniors are not limited to those from organized criminal groups; they can come from family members and so-called “friends” of the victim. Further, there is a growing problem of elder abuse. (See the National Center for Elder Abuse).

It is critical for family and caregivers to be on the lookout for the signs of maltreatment or exploitation, as the victims may be embarrassed, in denial, or unaware of their victimization. In some instances, the victim may be suffering from mental illness or other medical condition that impairs their ability to perceive and evaluate information.

If you believe that you or someone you know is at risk for being maltreated or exploited, immediately contact your local law enforcement office and the Adult Protection division of the county in which the victim resides.

In addition to the County resources, a Guardianship and/or Conservatorship may be appropriate to provide protection for someone who is unable or unwilling to protect themselves.

A Guardianship is a court appointment of a third person to make personal decisions for the person needing protection, such as where the person is to live, what medical decisions need to be made, and taking care of the person’s property.

A Conservatorship is a court appointment of a third person to make financial decisions, such as entering into or cancelling contracts, paying bills, and managing bank accounts.

A Guardian or Conservator can be a family member, friend, or corporation formed to serve as a professional Guardian or Conservator.

Persons subject to a Guardianship or Conservatorship are entitled to treatment with dignity and respect, including the ability to retain authority over areas not granted by the Court to the Guardian or Conservator. (See Bill of Rights for Wards and Protected Persons ).

Guardianships and Conservatorships are not only beneficial for persons who are subject to maltreatment or exploitation; they are also critical in assisting persons who are unable to manage their personal and financial affairs.

Please contact us for a consultation if you believe someone you know or care about is in need of a Guardianship or Conservatorship. (Please note that it is important you contact law enforcement and Adult Protection if you believe someone is at risk of harm to their person or property).