Protecting the most vulnerable

How to keep elderly residents from being abused

Heather Regan White / The American Press

Boomers & Beyond

WESTLAKE — On the first of October, laws passed during the previous Louisiana legislative session regarding financial abuse protections for the elderly and disabled took effect.

La Koisha Roberts, Lakeside Bank compliance officer and a local attorney, explained to Westlake Senior Center members recently about the legislation and ways of protecting their finances from those seeking to exploit them.

“Lakeside Bank’s board of directors feel that we have a moral obligation to protect our customers and community and to share information with the community as a whole,” she said.

Roberts said she is speaking to many of the parish’s senior centers and providing them with brochures that outline ways in which they can protect themselves and who to contact if they are victimized.

She said the bank will alert authorities if there is suspicion that something is amiss. The legislation, she said, protects banks from liability if an investigation into the concerns turns up nothing wrong.

Roberts urged seniors to continue making their own financial decisions for as long as feasible.

“Keep signing your own checks,” she said. But, when it comes time to elect someone else to step in, whether by naming them an executor of a will or granting them medical or financial power of attorney, “make sure they are someone you trust completely,” she said.

“If something in your gut tells you they can’t be trusted, then they probably can’t be trusted,” Roberts added.

“It’s easy to take for granted that when we move on from this life, our children, spouses, or other family members will take care of our business as we would have wanted. Surprise, surprise, it doesn’t always happen that way.”

She said for those who don’t want to spend money on attorney fees or a notary, it is still important to write out, sign and date a document — called a “holographic will” — outlining exactly what they want done when they die.

“Wills and trusts allow you to dictate what you want done,” she said.

Roberts also encouraged the seniors to make a living will, which directs medical professionals and family of the signer’s wishes concerning whether or not they wish to be resuscitated in the event they require the life-saving procedure.

“By the time some people need them, it’s too late,” she said.

Roberts said she has an 85-year-old relative who has been unconscious for two weeks, ever since a routine medical procedure.

The relative has no living will nor any children, so the medical decisions now fall to the relative’s brother.

“There’s nothing worse than children, spouses, or parents, having to decide whether or not to resuscitate,” she said.

Some of the other tips Roberts offered are never writing the pin number of an ATM card on paper kept in a wallet and never visiting an ATM at night or one that is poorly lit.

Elderly residents with questions or concerns regarding possible financial exploitation may call one of the following services:

• Louisiana’s Governor’s Office of Elder Abuse at 1-800-259-4990

• Calcasieu Council on Aging at 474-6563

• Region 5 Office of Aging and Adult Services at 491 – 2199

• Louisiana Department of Justice Consumer Protection at 1-800-351-4889

• Adult Protective Services at 1-800-898-4910

• 9-1-1””

La Koisha Roberts, Lakeside Bank compliance officer and local attorney, speaks to the Westlake Senior Center about preventing financial exploitation.

Heather Regan White / American Press

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