The National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) reports that out of the 11% of seniors who report mistreatment in the United States, more than half are also financially abused. Common cognitive impairments that plague the elderly, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, make members of this demographic group ripe targets for financial exploitation, and this trend is so pronounced that experts believe financial elder abuse will be the crime that defines the first few decades of the 21st century.
According to NAPSA, nine out of 10 elders who are exploited financially are abused by family members or romantic partners. By identifying the signs that financial elder abuse is occurring, you can stop this prevalent type of exploitation from happening to your loved ones and determine when it’s time to seek justice.
The older you get, the more likely it is that you will start to lose your faculties, so it’s no surprise that most instances of financial elder abuse are inflicted on seniors who are over 80 years old. This type of abuse can take many forms with the most common being identity theft and convincing elderly family members to donate to fake charities.
Elderly women are more likely to be financially exploited than elderly men, but anyone who is aging and losing their mental faculties can fall prey to financial abuse. Just because your loved one is male or younger than 80 doesn’t mean that they aren’t being abused.
In many cases, the psychological symptoms of financial elder abuse can be very similar to common signs of aging, so it’s important to be cautious as you determine whether your loved one is being exploited financially. Any time that an elder’s assets are being used wrongfully, however, financial elder abuse is taking place, so it’s even more important to remember to define this type of exploitation broadly.
Some of the warning signs of financial elder abuse are relatively obvious and would immediately concern any loved one. An elder making sudden changes to his or her will, for instance, is a clear sign that further investigation is merited.
Other types of financial elder abuse, however, are more insidious. Your loved one may suddenly make a new friend or fall in love, and they may leave financial decisions up to this important other. While such life changes can sometimes be on the level, those closest to elders who make these life-changing decisions should remain cautious and pay close attention.
Sometimes, financial elder abuse won’t make itself known via any major life changes. Certain types of financial abuse that seniors experience are only made apparent in inexplicably declining bank account balances or the disappearance of valuable objects from the home. Keep a close eye on your loved one’s assets to catch any subtle instances of financial elder abuse that may be afoot.
It’s often possible to prevent financial elder abuse before it occurs. Giving power of attorney to a trusted family member, for instance, can prevent any sudden changes to an elder’s will or bank accounts. If your beloved elder isn’t ready to take this step, simple conversations about how to establish boundaries and prevent financial abuse can make a world of difference.
Once you’re convinced that financial elder abuse has taken place, however, it’s time to take action. You may be able to make headway simply by confronting the abuser, but people who exploit the elderly are often immune to common sense and reason. Contacting the police directly might be more useful under certain circumstances.
Seeking justice for elder abuse using professional legal assistance is a surefire way to stop abuse that is already underway and prevent abusers from hurting any more elderly people. Contact an experienced elder abuse attorney today to seek permanent remedies to one of the 21st century’s most horrific crimes.