Elder abuse is a problem in California and across the country. Most people focus on physical well-being, but abuse can also include finances. Those affected include older adults of every income level, and when it happens, it can prevent the victim from having the resources available to meet their basic needs.
Signs of financial elder abuse
Anyone, even investment savvy and cautious people, could experience elder financial abuse. Caregivers, family members, and those entrusted to oversee someone else’s finances may abuse their position. People with debilitating ailments or dementia-related diseases have a higher risk of experiencing abuse, but even healthy and alert individuals can become victims. Family members and the person targeted for the abuse must remain aware of the risk and address it as soon as it begins.
Many early signs of financial abuse exist;
- Sudden notices for unpaid bills
- Declines in bank balances
- Changes in bank account information
- Behavioral changes in victims
- Difficulty getting information about accounts
- Unexpected changes in credit scores
Risks of financial elder abuse
Financial abuse has the potential to affect every part of life. People who experience financial losses from this crime may no longer have the money to meet their basic needs. The damage could cause them to go without medical care, lose their homes, or be unable to afford food. Many victims become afraid, ashamed, and embarrassed by the situation and withdraw from friends and family.
Address suspected abuse immediately
Anyone who suspects financial abuse of themselves or a loved one has the right to act immediately. It is not always safe to confront the abuser. Threats of physical abuse may accompany the theft, as the perpetrator wants to continue their behavior and avoid punishment. The safest method is to quietly gather documents that show financial losses and contact the California services that can help. Some assistance available for addressing this type of elder abuse includes Adult Protective Services, local police departments, and reliable friends and family.
Financial elder abuse can affect anyone. It does not happen only to the wealthy or the incapacitated. Even the most capable and cognizant individual can become a victim.