Preventing and Recognizing Financial Abuse of Older Adults

Preventing and Recognizing Financial Abuse of Older Adults

In 2034, for the first time in U.S. history, adults ages 65+ are expected to outnumber children under 18.

Many will remain active in the ensuing decades by traveling, taking up new hobbies and enjoying retirement.

But older adults will still eventually need assistance with activities of daily living and business affairs, and the two don’t always track along the same timeline.

Once an older adult becomes dependent on another person, whether a family member or professional, they become vulnerable to being taken advantage of or abused by someone who is supposed to assist and protect them.

Physical abuse often has visible signs, including injuries, poor hygiene, absence of assistive devices or other evidence of neglect. But financial abuse can be harder to spot.

Elder financial abuse is harm of an older person by the misappropriation of their financial resources or the abusive use of financial control in the context of a relationship where there is an expectation of trust.

What are the signs of financial abuse?

  • Sudden involvement of a distant family member in the older person’s life
  • A new, often present "best friend" who seems too close for comfort
  • New names added to accounts or property
  • Revisions to the will or estate plan
  • New patterns of spending, unusual purchases or receipt of gifts
  • The need to "consult" with someone before making financial decisions

Signs of the emotional toll of this abuse include:

  • Stress, high blood pressure, difficulty sleeping
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Visible fear of abuser
  • Unwillingness to respond to questions about finances
  • Nervous tics (biting nails, scratching, rocking)
  • Excessive worrying or expressions of uncertainty about their financial future despite previously solid financial footing

Mac Bailey of The Bailey Law Firm in Memphis, TN, was a featured speaker for a Pinnacle Point webinar on Financial Elder Abuse, covering federal and state laws that protect older adults and tips for preventing and intervening in abuse of older adults. Watch to learn more.

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