Not every form of elder abuse is physical. Emotional, psychological and verbal abuse can also affect the residents of nursing homes and other care facilities. There is one more form of abuse that is far too common, but far less discussed: financial abuse.
What to know about financial abuse
Elder financial abuse is the exploitation of an elderly person for the purpose of financial gain. It can involve fraud, identity theft, scams, threats and undue influence. Some of the most common examples include:
- Forging checks
- Stealing money from a wallet, bag or apartment
- Stealing property
- Telephone scams
- Online scams
- Lying about expenses
- Intimidating or coercing a senior into giving money
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, this form of abuse costs senior citizens about $2.9 billion every year. Sadly, the perpetrators are often people close to an elderly person, including nursing home staff, medical professionals, neighbors or even family members.
Preventing the financial abuse of seniors
Whether you have reason to believe that your loved one has experienced exploitation or you wish to prevent it altogether, these are some of the steps you can take:
- Have a frank discussion with your loved one about potential financial abuse
- Keep track of your loved one’s financial transactions
- Document any suspicious financial activity
- Beware of any sudden new friends in your loved one’s life
- Establish a guardianship or conservatorship to manage your loved one’s finances
- Ensure that your loved one has a legally sound last will and testament
- Report suspected abuse to the nursing home, medical facility or authorities immediately
It can feel frightenining and angering to suspect that your loved one has been financially abused. But with education and careful documentation, you can go a long way toward ending it or making sure it never happens.