DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter from "Worried About Dad in New Mexico," I had to tell you about our year from hell.
My father, a severe stroke victim in his mid-80s, nearly lost everything. A woman half his age tricked him into a phony marriage, and into signing quitclaim deeds on his properties and automobile pink slips. She attempted to raid his checking account, savings account and Social Security.
Abby, your advice to "Worried" to take Dad to a doctor for an examination, and to a lawyer to protect his interests, was excellent, but I would add: Report suspected elder financial abuse to the county adult protective services.
While our experiences are more complex than most, there are common threads in both of them and a course of action families can take.
Many elders experience isolation, loneliness, fear of dependence, fear of financial problems, and the tendency to trust people they don't know.
It may be necessary to be confrontational (the downside risk is small in comparison to what might happen), and, if legal action becomes necessary, go for it with gusto. Be sure your attorney is a litigator; cheats and frauds are not frightened off by paper pushing.
Fortunately, we have been successful in court. I now have conservatorship and the marriage is almost nullified. Because there is still ongoing litigation, please sign me ... CLOSE CALL IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR CLOSE CALL: I'm pleased your father's close call has a happy ending. He is fortunate to have been blessed with such caring children.
I urge all friends, relatives and neighbors who suspect an older person is being taken advantage of financially to report it before a tragedy occurs.