A new study published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology looked into the types and causes of elder abuse taking place. It found that financial elder abuse was the most common. California residents might be surprised to hear that according to the researchers, this result was in line with what they expected to find, but they didn’t expect that the perpetrator most often would be a family member.

Researchers gathered data from that reported to the National Center on Elder Abuse resource line. They found that 55% of the calls were regarding financial abuse and family members were identified as the cause 47% of the time. Emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse were also others forms of abuse reported, with family members responsible for three of the five. Additionally, 32% of the calls that were reporting abuse being perpetrated by a family member reported more than one kind of abuse.

While it is concerning that elder abuse costs the country billions in healthcare costs, it is alarming that the cases of abuse are often underreported. Individually, victims suffer from psychological, physical, emotional and financial harm by abusers, without many avenues for reporting what they are going through.

There can be many signs of elder abuse, especially elder financial abuse, as bank accounts can become depleted and property being signed over to someone who would likely not be in possession of it otherwise. Financial abuse may not be the only form of abuse the elderly individual is going through, which is why consulting an experienced attorney regarding concern of a loved one’s exploitation may be one way to discuss one’s legal options.