Financial Elder Abuse is the unauthorized or improper use of the resources of an elder for monetary or personal benefit. It can include forgery, actual theft of money, misuse of possessions, coercion or deception to surrender money or property, and the misuse of guardianship or power of attorney. Financial elder abuse can happen to anyone. But most victims live alone, are between the ages of 80 and 89, and require some help with health care or home maintenance. Twice as many victims are women. Half the time the abuser is someone the victim trusts and relies on for essential services. Abusers may be family, friends, neighbors, local businesses, and even Medicare and Medicaid providers.
Is your loved one the victim of financial elder abuse? Here are ten signs to watch for:
- Sudden changes in the senior’s financial condition.
- Failure to pay bills.
- Failure to buy food or medication.
- Significant withdrawals from the senior’s accounts.
- Missing personal property or belongings.
- Suspicious changes in wills, power of attorney, titles, accounts, and insurance policies.
- Addition of names to the senior’s signature card.
- Financial activity the senior couldn’t have done, such as an ATM withdrawal when the account holder is bedridden.
- Unnecessary services, goods, or subscriptions.
- Isolation of the senior from friends or family.
One of the few ways to stop financial elder abuse is to report it. If you suspect that this is happening to someone you care about, take action. If your state has an Elder Abuse Hotline, call it. You can also report it to your state’s Adult Protective Services. Although the power and scope of APS varies from state to state, its role is to investigate abuse cases, intervene, and offer services and advice. You can report anonymously, but you will need some concrete information: name and address of victim, name of abuser and address (if known), and specifics of the abuse. Sadly, the victim does have the right to refuse services, as they may not acknowledge the abuse, be ashamed of their circumstances, or are too dependent on their abuser.