Of all the abuses perpetrated on the elderly, there is perhaps none that is so insidious yet so pervasive than that of financial victimization. Not only can financial abuse create both devastating long and short term consequences, but it often goes hand in hand with other forms of abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual, and others. Making this situation even worse is the fact that much abuse is caused by what might otherwise appear to be trusted family members and friends, making it practically invisible to others.
Desperation and greed are two of the most frequently mentioned reasons that elder financial abuse occurs, according to Kathleen Quinn, executive director of the National Adult Protective Services Association. Fortunately, it is for this reason that the first signs of financial abuse occur, making it easier to spot. After all, when the senior goes without food, medical care, and other essentials, it can be caused by the fact that their money is being taken from them. According to experts, family members and friends are in the best position to accomplish this through threats, intimidation, and other methods.
Another source of elder financial abuse is outside influences. These might include fraud committed by telemarketers and other scams that prey on the elderly. Other individuals might also take advantage of elders by forcing themselves upon them by appearing as well meaning support, offering to care for them, but have no intent but to take from them.
What to Do?
The most important and effective way to detect elder financial abuse is through vigilance. Unfortunately, financial abuse leaves no physical scars. As a result, if the abuse does take place it will show itself in other signs such as signatures on transactions that are not familiar, unpaid bills, sudden changes in attorneys or caregivers, unusual reimbursements, or gifts to caregivers or friends, and others.
Thanks largely to the increased awareness of elder abuse in whatever form there are a growing number of resources and groups that you can turn to for help. These include the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, National Adult Protective Services Association, and other groups. Some of these groups even have local chapters that can advise you if you suspect a problem. You can also seek the help of a good elder abuse attorney to defend the rights of your loved ones. There are also many cities that have departments on aging that can help.
Regardless of what you do, if you suspect abuse, get help. A person who cannot stand up for themselves is at a terrible disadvantage in the face of someone who can. They need your help.