After a certain age, there comes a time when many seniors will have to rely on others’ help to take care of themselves. Unfortunately, this puts countless elders in a position to be taken advantage of financially – often even by their own family.
If you have an older loved one in your life, it’s crucial to recognize when an elder is at risk of financial abuse and the signs that it may be occurring.
Who is at risk?
While both men and women can be targets of financial abuse, women are more likely to face exploitation because they live longer. In addition, the seniors who are the most at risk of financial elder abuse include:
- Those who live alone or with a non-spouse relative
- Those who have significant assets and resources, such as a savings account, retirement plan, jewelry or other valuables.
- Those who have a chronic condition such as cognitive impairment or disease that makes it difficult for them to get out and isolates them.
These qualities make elders especially susceptible to the tactics of abusers, which can range from coercion or threats to actual physical harm.
Abusers fall into two broad categories: strangers and a trusted person the elder depends on, such as a family member, friend or professional caregiver. If you believe your elder loved one may be at risk of abuse, recognizing the red flags can help you to determine whether you need to take action.
What are the signs of financial abuse?
According to Forbes, you’ll want to be mindful of any drastic changes to your loved one’s care needs. If a senior depends on another individual for their care, their caregiver may take advantage of the situation and convince them into making financial decisions they ordinarily wouldn’t make. Other indicators that financial abuse is taking place can include:
- A new “friend” or caregiver in your senior’s life
- Complaints or confusion about a missing credit card or other valuables
- Large credit card transactions or an unusual increase in credit card debt
- Abrupt changes to your senior’s will or a transfer of assets to a family member or caregiver without a reasonable explanation.
- Your senior goes on fewer outings or seems nervous around their new caregiver.
- A sudden lack of necessities such as food, medications or clothing that your senior usually could afford.
The sooner you can spot the signs of elder financial abuse and put a stop to it, the better. Keep your eyes open to red flags and communicate nonjudgmentally with your loved one if you suspect they are a victim of abuse.