I’m often critical of Canada’s financial regulators, but I applaud a recent effort by the country’s securities commissions to highlight the very real and growing problem of financial abuse of the elderly.

The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) provided a list of resources last month to help people identify and prevent financial exploitation of the elderly.

It’s an unfortunate fact of life that as we age our physical and mental capacities can become impaired, leaving us vulnerable to making bad financial decisions, being taken advantage of and falling victim to fraud. With the aging of the population, this is becoming the reality for more and more people.

That’s why if you’re in this category, or close to someone who is, it’s critical to be on guard for abuse and plan ahead for incapacity with trusted advisors.

There are tools you can use to help protect yourself or loved ones, including powers of attorney and protection mandates in Quebec. However, these tools must be used with care and the advice of professionals because they can be misused.

This guide, Protecting Vulnerable Clients, from Quebec’s Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) has a good discussion of these tools. It’s aimed at helping financial advisors protect vulnerable clients but contains valuable information for everyone.

It’s also important to remember it’s not only those in the investment industry who might exploit the elderly. Abuse can also occur when seniors have their guard down including family settings, social clubs, religious and charitable organizations and senior residences. Seniors can also be targeted for other scams, including phishing via email or text messages.

At PWL, we’re vigilant for signs of senior financial abuse and place a high priority on helping our clients protect themselves from mistreatment and prepare for the day when they can no longer manage their financial affairs.

If you’re concerned about your own circumstances, or those of a loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are anxious to raise awareness of elderly financial abuse, help protect people from it and stop it when it’s happening.