Research indicates that the rate of elderly financial abuse are substantially underreported.
From the Broken Trust: Elders, Family, and Finances Study (2009):
In 2006, there were 21.6 million women age 65+ and 15.7 million men age 65+, or a sex ratio of 138 women for every 100 men. The number of females to males increases with age, ranging from 114 for the 65 to 69 age group to a high of 213 for persons 85 and over.11.
So, what is Elder Financial Abuse?
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, elder financial abuse is the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a vulnerable elder at risk for harm by another due to changes in physical functioning, mental functioning, or both.
Signs of Elder Financial Abuse:
- Unusual worry about finances or fear
of an individual
- Unexplained trembling or crying
- Changes in communication patterns
- Any abrupt change in behavior
- Overpayment for goods and services
- Unnecessary services or household repairs
- A set of “out-of-sync” check numbers
- Increased ATM activity
- Unusual cash withdrawals from a financial
- account in a short period of time
- Missing belongings from the home or
- room in a facility
- Excessive time spent on the Internet
- A signature that seems forged, unusual,
- or suspicious
- An unexplained reduction in bank
- An increase in the number and amount of
- credit card accounts
Trusted Professionals: 18.0
Caregiver (non-agency): 10.9
Caregiver (agency): 9.3
Skilled Nursing Facility/Assisted Living: 7.5
Medicaid/Medical Fraud: 6.7
Befriending (“Sweetheart Scam”): 5.6
Home Repair Scam (includes travelers/handyman): 5.6
Criminal (robbery, burglary, rape, drugs, etc.): 3.0
Con Man: 1.9
Phone Scam: 1.5
Total 266* 99.8%**
**Does not equal 100 due to rounding.
Prevent Elder Financial Abuse:
Keep belongings neat; keep track of possessions; open and send your own mail; direct deposit
Social Security and other checks; complete and sign your own checks whenever possible; use an
answering machine to screen calls and do not provide personal information over the telephone.
Consult with an attorney about future plans, including a power of attorney; consult with an
attorney about caregiving arrangements; review your will; know where to go if you suspect abuse; ask for help from police, from employees at a bank, from Adult Protective Services, if needed.
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