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Protecting Friends and Family
Joy* was 88 and living alone in the Roseville area. Being a childless widow, she needed someone to care for her following a surgery. She welcomed the kindness of a friend from church, Betty*, who offered to help.

“Joy was a trusting person,” recalls Joy’s friend Trudy Mazer.

But little did Joy know, what seemed like kindness would turn into a textbook example of financial abuse and manipulation, Mazer says.
Betty moved Joy to an assisted living facility in the South Sacramento area. Though Mazer says the elevated care was needed, Joy now lived far from her familiar, comfortable environment. What was worse, Betty started trying to cut people out of Joy’s life, including Mazer, another longtime friend who is an attorney, and a woman who had become like a daughter to Joy. Joy suddenly wanted to change all of the legal documents for distributing her sizable estate upon death and hired a new attorney to alter the documents.

When Mazer visited Joy and started to realize Betty had designs on Joy’s estate, she knew what to do. As a registered nurse, she’s a mandated reporter of abuse or neglect of older adults. She also teaches certified nursing assistants about recognizing and reporting the signs of abuse. Mazer immediately called Adult Protective Services to report Betty’s suspicious behavior.

Financial abuse cases like Joy’s are all too common. According to a study by the Investor Protection Trust, more than 7.3 million Americans over 65 have been victims of fraud. Financial abuse can include fraud, theft and an array of scams, many of which are targeted specifically at older adults. Recent studies suggest older adults may be less inclined to mistrust others and may be more optimistic, which can place them at higher risk of being targeted by financial predators. Older adults or their loved ones who suspect they’ve fallen victim to financial fraud should report the incident immediately to APS. Aps works with older adults, their families and law enforcement to investigate and stop financial abuse.

When Mazer reported Joy’s situation, APS staff took the report over the weekend, a level of dedication the impressed Mazer. APS staff provided ongoing support and offered Mazer and her friends resources to remedy the situation. Based on their advice, Joy reconnected with her original attorney.

“We were able to get her to sign the papers and eliminate the other person and the other attorney right before she passed away. In the end, [Joy] knew this circle of friends were her true friends,” Mazer says.

*Names and been changed

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