Elder Financial Abuse
Unfortunately, physical abuse and mental abuse are not the only types of abuse that pose serious risks to our senior citizens. Elder financial abuse is another common form of abuse that threatens the welfare of the elderly. Family members, caregivers and others that spend substantial amounts of time around the sick and aging naturally develop close relationships. These relationships should be ones of trust and confidence, but all too often, they become something else.
The National Center on Elder Abuse, Administration on Aging, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, defines elder financial abuse as follows: “the illegal or improper use of an elder's funds, property, or assets.” Examples of financial abuse include taking money without permission, using property without permission, forging another’s signature, using coercion or under influence to take possession of another’s property, and using coercion or under influence to gain power of attorney, guardianship, etc. over another.
Just as with physical and emotional abuse, there are certain warning signs that indicate financial abuse is occurring or has occurred. Such signs include:
- Abrupt changes in one’s banking habits
- Large, unexplained bank withdrawals
- Unauthorized bank withdrawals
- Unexplained transfers of assets
- Disappearance of valuable possessions
- Sudden appearance of distant relatives or unknown friends claiming rights to a deceased’s assets
- Unpaid bills despite sufficient resources
- Provision of unnecessary services
- Addition of names to an elder’s bank account
- Unusual changes in an elder’s will
The perpetrators of elder financial abuse are typically those closest to the senior–children, grandchildren, caregivers, and even significant others. Sometimes, however, strangers seek out vulnerable targets and insert themselves into their lives for the sole purpose of exploiting them. This kind of abuse can manifest as a sudden, new romantic relationship (often one involving a significant age difference) or a newly hired assistant or personal caregiver. Such new additions to an elder’s life should be viewed with caution.
Unfortunately, nursing homes present another situation where elders are especially vulnerable to financial abuse. Nursing home employees are the people residents rely on for their everyday care and the most basic of needs. Furthermore, for a number of residents, the caregivers at the nursing home are some of their only visitors. This type of isolation contributes to the likelihood of exploitation. Small things like routine phone calls and visits can help prevent this type of exploitation of your loved one at a nursing home.
To learn more about elder financial abuse, consult the following sources:
If you suspect that you or a loved one has become the victim of elder financial abuse, contact an attorney today to discuss your options and learn about your rights. A Kentucky Financial Abuse Attorney can help you get back what is rightfully yours. The experienced financial abuse attorneys at The Higgins Firm will gladly speak with you to discuss the merits of your claim and help you plan your next step.