According to the National Council on Aging, about five million seniors are financially exploited each year by family members, friends, or medical staff.
Even though financial elder abuse is largely underreported, NCOA estimates that up to $36.5 billion is stolen from vulnerable seniors each year.
Insider’s recent article entitled “4 signs a loved one could be experiencing financial elder abuse” explains that elder abuse occurs when a family member or friend takes advantage of someone whose cognitive abilities have declined or an older person who’s lonely and isolated.
Especially during the pandemic, when elders have been so much more isolated and lonelier, these seniors may be more vulnerable to financial elder abuse than ever.
Let’s look at some common signs of financial elder abuse.
- They mention the abuser's name repeatedly. The abuser's goal is to cement themselves as the center of your loved one's life. It’s common to hear your loved one refer to them as "my friend," "my good son," or any other high praises in regular conversations. This repetition is a red flag that something has shifted.
- Large, unusual purchases. You may see large purchases like a check made out to the abusive person, paying their rent, or paying off their debts. A lot of that relationship causes the elder to think that they have to buy into the relationship, so they’ll purchase things for the other person. However, there are also cases where the abuser already has access to the victim's accounts and is buying things for themselves.
- Check-writing privileges granted to the abuser. It's also very common for the abusive person to get check-writing privileges granted to them, so that they can access your loved one's assets.
- Mood swings. Similar to any other type of abuse, elders may express feeling anxious, depressed, stressed and suddenly elated when they talk about their abusers. One second, they're appreciative for the person, but they know that something is deeply wrong.
Make sure that there are protections in place to safeguard your loved one.
Reference: Insider (Jan. 16, 2022) “4 signs a loved one could be experiencing financial elder abuse”