Growing older often times means having to depend on others for care, and that care may mean entrusting important information to someone.

“If you know your loved one is approaching an age where they are not able to make their own decisions, get together with family to discuss who is better person of contact who’s the one who’s going to do finances,” says Selah Hospice Care Director of Nursing Frank Lugo.

Crucial decisions can help avoid an elderly person falling victim to financial crimes and exploitation.

Those in the business of taking care of the elderly say that often those closest to the person are who commit the crime.

Recently, McAllen police arrested a home health nurse and her husband accused of stealing more than $450,000 from an elderly couple.

A nurse identified as Elizabeth Leal befriended an elderly couple, somehow got power of attorney and allegedly started stealing large amounts of money, as high as$28,000, according to a criminal complaint. 

“If someone has dual power of attorney for example, they make decisions on best interest of family their loved one,” said Valley Grande Manor Director of Nursing Joe Longoria. “If it’s financial, make sure bank records are scrutinized and looked at carefully– make sure that all the financial transactions are in order.”

Leal and her husband now face first-degree felony charges due to the amount of money involved, which is over $450,000.

Longoria said one way of stopping elderly financial abuse from happening is by educating family and staff.

The National Adult Protective Services Association reports that one in 20 adults report some form of perceived financial mistreatment.