Getting older can come with a lot of different challenges. Many people find that their mobility decreases and their bodies get weaker. Others find themselves getting lonely.
Friends and relatives die and struggle with their own issues, and society isn’t built for those who have retired.
No matter what happens to someone when they get old, they will always have their children to help them, right?
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, and it’s common for elderly relatives to be exploited.
Being in this situation can be horrible, especially when a sibling is taking advantage of your parents.
To make this easier to understand, this article will be exploring the issues that come with taking advantage of mom or dad. We will also look at some of the best ways to resolve a situation like this.
Why Do People Take Advantage Of Elderly Parents?
It can be very difficult to understand why someone would take advantage of someone they love. Unfortunately, this sort of issue is far more common than many people realize.
This is because people will usually trick themselves into believing that what they are doing isn’t wrong. And some will even be completely ignorant to the fact that they are taking advantage of someone.
You can find some of the main reasons that people will take advantage of someone they love, though it would be wrong to say that there aren’t other reasons.
Money is the main reason that people end up taking advantage of their loved ones. Your sibling may want money immediately or they may want to improve what they have in the future.
Parents can be an easy source for this when they care about their children, and some will take advantage.
While most people are able to settle into adult life, some people find themselves relying on their parents for many years after this point. Dependency like this can be dangerous.
Parents can end up spending a small fortune over the years without noticing how much they’re giving away. As time goes on, this will only get harder to overcome.
Feeling entitled to something can be a very powerful emotion when it isn’t dealt with. Siblings often get into arguments about what they’ve received from parents.
This can lead to the exploitation of elderly moms and dads as they try to keep their children happy.
How Do People Take Advantage Of Elderly Parents?
Having an understanding of why someone might take advantage of elderly parents is only the first step to solving this problem. Alongside this, it also makes sense to have an understanding of the methods people will use to exploit others.
It’s important to keep in mind that your sibling is likely to view their actions as innocent, even if they are working to take advantage of someone.
Playing The Sympathy Card
Sympathy is an easy way to take advantage of someone that cares about you. This is something that a lot of people do when they want to get something out of their parents.
This will usually involve asking for money or support in the form of a loan when they are desperate. But there will be no actual intention of paying the money back once they are on their feet again.
Lying and Stealing
Theft is a very common issue for the elderly, with many parents trusting their children.
Theft like this can take place on many levels, from taking money from a parent’s purse or wallet to forging checks in their name. Stealing usually comes with lies, making this type of exploitation particularly bad.
Using Medical Conditions
With around 40% of 65+ Americans having an age-related memory condition, you can see how a medical condition can lead to exploitation.
It can be all too easy to exploit hearing problems, with some children working hard to use their parent’s memory loss as a way to take advantage of them.
Of course, though, other medical conditions can also be used like this.
Using Legal Authority
Mobility issues, technophobia, and trust in their children push parents to give power of attorney to their kids. This can give your sibling access to your parent’s finances and assets.
While usually innocent, this issue can spiral out of control and cost your parents a fortune.
As you can see, there are a lot of different ways that your sibling could take advantage of your parents.
Figuring out what to do when someone is taking advantage of an elderly person can be very difficult. But it can also be very hard to spot the signs of something like this in the first place, making it extra challenging.
The Impact Of Elderly Exploitation
Having an idea of the impact that elderly exploitation can have will be crucial if you are going to spot it early. Elderly people are often going through a transitional period in their lives.
This can hide the signs of exploitation, making it crucial that you are observant. It’s all too easy to miss this and consider it a normal part of life.
Most won’t have a good idea of the financial state of their parents, though big changes can be noticeable.
If your sibling is taking a significant amount from your parents, they will no doubt find it hard to cover their own living expenses. This is something that you should be able to see when you spend time with them.
A person’s income will generally stay the same once they reach retirement. Unless they have pensions that are waiting to mature, your mom and dad’s money will remain at the same level.
Making any subtractions from their bank account have a visible impact on the way that your parents live. Of course, this can be harder to see when your parents have substantial savings.
Many parents don’t realize that they are being exploited by their children, and this means that it will have little impact on their emotions.
Other people, though, will notice this sort of issue, but might not think that they can do anything about it. This can lead to severe changes in someone’s emotional state.
Many people feel depressed, anxious, and hurt that their child would exploit them.
Stories That Don’t Match
As mentioned previously in this article, lies are often a common element of the process of elderly exploitation. While this can make it even harder for you to get to the bottom of what is happening, it can also act as a clear sign.
When you hear something from both your sibling and your parents but they don’t line up, it’s always worth asking questions.
For example, your brother or sister may tell you that they were able to afford the money for their new car because of a promotion at work. When you speak to your parents, it could turn out that they gave the money to your sibling because they had a different story.
While a lie like this can seem small, it can end up having a very negative impact on your parents when they’re trying to help.
Solving The Problem Of A Sibling Exploiting Your Parents
With an issue as complex as this, it would be impossible to come up with a universal remedy. Not much will solve the whole thing in a flash. Instead, families have to work very hard to make sure that a problem like this can be cleared up without rifts being caused. But you can take steps to get your family on the right track.
Opening A Dialog
Talking about an issue like exploitation can be very difficult. You have to keep in mind that this is often the only way to get to the bottom of a family struggle, while also being very careful with the way that you approach it.
Talking To Your Parents
Before you can confront your sibling about their exploitation, it will be crucial that you talk to your parents to make sure that you are right. This conversation should never start with accusing your sibling. You can look for ways to ask leading questions that will help you to find the answers you need.
Not only will this enable you to determine whether foul play is afoot, but it will also help your parents to see that they are being taken advantage of. This sort of conversation can be very difficult, but many people find success when they are careful.
Talking To Your Sibling
If it sounds like your sibling is taking advantage of their elderly parents, it will be time to have a conversation with them. You should always approach this with the assumption that they are both innocent and don’t realize that something bad is happening.
Many cases of exploitation aren’t deliberate, and it will be very hard to get your sibling to take you if they think that you’re attacking them.
You should work very hard to keep your emotions under control, while also preparing yourself for the questions you will ask. A question like “Do you think that mom and dad could afford to buy you a car?” is much better than telling your sibling that they couldn’t, giving them the chance to see the issue for themselves.
Working Out A Solution
Working out a solution to something like a sibling taking advantage of elderly parents can be difficult. While you both may be aware of the issue, changing something like this is often an uphill battle. Your sibling is likely to be unwilling to change and your parents will find it hard to stop the process.
Before you dive into this, it’s worth keeping a few things in mind. The relationship you share with your parents and your sibling can be on the line when you embark on this sort of process. This means that you need to be very careful with what you say.
Alongside this, it’s also worth considering the impact your sibling is having on your elderly parents compared to the impact of a damaged relationship.
An Internal Solution
Solving an issue like elderly exploitation will always be best done internally. While this option isn’t always possible, it can make the whole thing far less difficult if you handle it in a civil manner amongst yourselves.
This process will always have to begin with some communication, and it can be best to approach your sibling before you speak to your parents.
Talking to your sibling will give them the chance to realize that they’re taking advantage of your elderly parents. This will hopefully prompt them to stop in their tracks. Of course, it is rarely this simple, though, and you may find yourself facing a sibling who refuses to acknowledge that they’re doing something wrong.
In this case, you may have to talk to your parents or their care workers about the issue. Working to solve a problem like this can be even harder than talking to your sibling.
Your parents may not believe that they are being taken advantage of, and may even be annoyed if you suggest it. This makes it worth treading extremely carefully to ensure that you don’t upset or offend anyone.
Getting Professional Help
People often view elder abuse or exploitation as issues that only impact the older person in the scenario. In reality, though, the person taking advantage of their parents can be somewhat of a victim in their own right. It’s worth keeping this in mind when you are approaching this issue with them.
Getting professional help can be a good way to start working towards improving the situation within your family. There are quite a few therapists across the US that can help with this sort of issue.
Therapy like this can help your sibling to overcome their need to take advantage of your parents, while also giving your parents the power to push back when they feel like they’ve given too much.
Approaching someone to offer them therapy can spark a lot of tension between loved ones, but you can often avoid this with simple psychology. Rather than offering your sibling therapy, you could talk to them about the idea for your parents. This can help someone to reach the conclusion that they need help for themselves.
Of course, though, you can’t force someone to use therapy if they don’t want to.
Getting Legal Help
If the solutions above are failing you, this final idea is sure to do the trick. The US has strict laws in place designed to protect elderly people from exploitation, enabling the police to get involved when needed. This makes it easier to get help when you’re struggling with exploitation within your family.
Of course, before you go to the police, it will always make sense to talk to a lawyer about the issue you’re facing. If your sibling has power of attorney over your parents, transferring this into your name or removing it completely could be a good route to take. Your parents will have the power to do this at any time.
If the exploitation isn’t coming as theft and you worry that your parents can look after their money, you could seek power of attorney for yourself. This would make it impossible for your sibling to access your parent’s finances without your permission.
Finally, if your sibling is refusing to change the situation, it could be worth starting litigations against your sibling. While it can be hard to ensure that your parents are looked after properly, most judges will be very sympathetic to your case in a situation like this.
Taking advantage of an elderly parent is far more common than you might expect. This sort of issue has become more pressing as the digital age has loomed. Children have greater control over the parent’s money and other important elements of life.
Of course, though, this doesn’t mean that you can’t stop elderly exploitation in its tracks when you spot it happening within your family. You just have to be careful to make sure that you don’t break the bonds that each of you shares in the process.
Elder Abuse Resources
U.S. Department of Justice websites
- Elder Justice – www.justice.gov/elderjustice
- Bureau of Justice Assistance – bja.ojp.gov
- Office for Victims of Crime – www.ojp.gov/ovc
- National Institute of Justice – nij.ojp.gov
- National Center on Elder Abuse – ncea.acl.gov
Websites for National Organizations
- American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging – www.americanbar.org/aging
- National Adult Protective Services Association – www.napsa-now.org
- National Association of Triads – www.nationaltriad.org
- Center for Elders and the Courts – www.eldersandcourts.org
- The National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life – www.ncall.us
- The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care – www.theconsumervoice.org
- National District Attorneys Association – www.ndaa.org