Financial elder abuse is one of the most common forms of elder abuse among Americans age 60-plus. Using elders’ (aged 60 or older) money or belongings illegally or improperly is elder financial abuse. The National Council on Aging estimates that the financial exploitation of older people costs the nation $36.5 billion annually. The problem is that it can be harder to detect than physical abuse because it is often committed by family members, friends, and caregivers.
Financial Elder Abuse: How Does It Happen
Financial abuse is common among older adults for many reasons. Elderly abuse victims may suffer from mental impairments like dementia or Alzheimer’s. Perpetrators may exploit those health issues for their financial gain. Despite this, even healthy victims without mental impairments are often vulnerable to financial exploitation, often by their family and friends.
Financial abuse is most commonly perpetrated by adult children. Still, it can also happen in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and even from financial caregivers like the power of attorneys, trustees, guardians, or conservators. As a warning sign of elder financial abuse, watch out for new friends who seem possessive and controlling over your loved ones.
Financial abuse is also influenced by race, which is a major risk factor. There was a higher rate of financial exploitation among African American elderly in a 2010 study (23.0% versus 8.4%) compared to non-Americans.
Financial Elder Abuse: How to Report It
Despite the prevalence of elder abuse, only one out of every 24 cases is reported to the authorities. The National Center on Elder Abuse advises reporting suspicions of elder financial abuse, even if they are not confirmed. Follow these steps to report it:
- For immediate help, call 911 or the local police if the suspected victim is in immediate danger.
- Call Adult Protective Services (APS) at 1-833-401-0832 if the suspected victim is not in immediate danger.
- When you suspect a victim in a long-term care facility lives in your state, contact the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Long-term care ombudspersons are trained to advocate for residents and to assist them.
Financial Elder Abuse: How to Prevent It
To prevent the financial exploitation of seniors, the NCEA offers these tips:
- Reduce the possibility of phone scams. Become a member of the national Do Not Call registry. You can register by visiting DoNotCall.gov or calling 1-888-382-1222.
- Consider the viewpoints of others. Before investing or purchasing large amounts of money, speak with an attorney or a member of your trust family.
- Information about individuals should be protected. Documents such as bank statements, credit card receipts, and financial records should be shredded before being discarded.
- Check your background. Hire an in-home caregiver who has been properly screened with a background check.
Elder financial abuse is the illicit or improper use of elders’ money or belongings. It can take a long time to recover emotionally from financial abuse. When you realize you are the victim of abuse, you may feel ashamed, embarrassed, or humiliated. If you need help processing and healing from experience, consider joining a support group through the local Senior Center or Area Agency on Aging. We help solve this problem for families in and around Orange County, CA. To learn more about Optimal Senior Care Solutions Alzheimer’s care services, reach out to us at (949) 535-2211 today!