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What is financial elder abuse?

As your parent gets older, you may be primarily concerned with his or her physical and mental condition. While this is certainly a priority, you should not forget about financial health too. Sadly, elder financial abuse is a common phenomenon that deserves your awareness.

Elder financial abuse refers to the mismanagement or theft of an elderly individual's money, investments or property. Financial abusers see elderly people as vulnerable targets and unlikely to expose the abuse. The abuse can take place over years or be a single incident. Here is what you should know about this type of elder abuse

What does financial abuse look like?

Not every financial abuser utilizes the same tactics. Here are some methods that abusers use to exploit elderly individuals:

  • Draining joint funds: Someone who has a joint banking account or credit card with an elderly person may withdraw funds for personal use without express approval.
  • Violence or neglect: Some abusers use violent or neglectful tactics to coerce elderly victims into turning over assets or money. 
  • Mismanagement: Sometimes, elders appoint someone to manage their finances by enacting a power of attorney. An abuser in this position of power may use this for his or her own gain.
  • Frequently demanding money: Family members, friends, neighbors or partners may take advantage of a generous elderly person.

No matter how it takes place, financial abuse is never tolerable. 

Who commits financial elder abuse

Abusive people often develop close connections to victims and use this trust to gain access to money and assets. Common abusers of the elderly include the following:

  • Family members, such as children and spouses
  • Caretakers, such as a nursing home worker or home health worker
  • Professionals, such as financial advisors and bankers

However, sometimes a new friend or romantic partner may commit elder abuse. The sad truth is that no one is above suspicion if you notice signs of exploitation or abuse. 

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