Watchfulness Can Help Prevent Financial Exploitation of Elderly

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Elder abuse comes in many forms, including financial exploitation, which costs elderly adults billions of dollars annually, report news sources.

A recent survey found that financial exploitation costs elderly Americans $3 billion annually; victims of financial abuse are nearly twice as likely to be women than men; the majority of victims are octogenarians, living alone, and require at lease some help with health care or home maintenance; and most perpetrators were men in their 30s, 40s or 50s.

The study, conducted by a life insurance company, divided financial elder abuse into three categories: Occasion crimes are the result of the elder being in the wrong place at the wrong time, often while showing signs of vulnerability like using a cane or displaying a disabled-parking placard; desperation crimes are usually the result of a relative or friend being “desperate enough to do what ever it takes to get money”; and predation crimes, which are characterized by someone establishing a relationship with the purpose of later exploiting the elder’s trust.

As for the perpetrators of financial elder abuse, only half are strangers. About 34 percent of the perpetrators are family, friends or neighbors. Twelve percent of financial exploitation of elders is perpetrated by businesses. Exploitation perpetrated by strangers jumped from 9 percent in 2008 to 28 percent in 2010.

Signs of financial exploitation include unusual changes in legal document like powers of attorneys or wills, suspicious withdrawals from bank accounts, and mounting bills. Note that these may also be indicators of the elderly person having difficulty taking caring of themselves or their finances.

As a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer, I encourage families and caretakers of elderly people to keep their loved one’s safe by keeping an eye out for signs of abuse.