Undue influence refers to a situation in which an individual manipulates or pressures another person into making decisions that are not in their best interests. For Texas families, it can be particularly concerning to have older members, who may be more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse due to declining physical or cognitive health, being taken advantage of by their caregivers.
Identification of undue influence
Recognizing undue influence can be challenging, as it often involves manipulation or pressure that is not overt or physically violent. However, there are some signs that may indicate that undue influence is taking place, including sudden changes in financial or personal arrangements, isolation from friends and family and a lack of understanding about important decisions.
Older adults who are facing declining health, loneliness or other challenges are often targeted for undue influence. This can include those who are recently widowed or otherwise isolated, those with cognitive decline or memory loss and those with limited financial resources.
The role of caregivers
Caregivers and others in a position of trust are often the perpetrators of undue influence. Potential abusers may include family members, care providers or even friends and neighbors who seek to exploit the older adult’s vulnerability.
Prevention and intervention
To prevent undue influence, it is important to educate older adults about the dangers of exploitation and abuse. Family members can take a proactive approach to prevention by providing information on how to recognize the signs of undue influence, how to protect personal information and assets and how to seek help if they suspect that they are being exploited.
If you suspect that an older adult is the victim of undue influence, it is important to seek professional help. Help with matters of elder law can come from authorities that include law enforcement, the state attorney general’s office or a local elder abuse hotline.
Prevent the abuse of your loved ones
Undue influence is a serious form of abuse that can have devastating effects on older adults. By educating yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of exploitation and abuse, and seeking professional help when needed, you can help protect older adults from the harmful effects of undue influence.