A trusted caregiver may have taken advantage of one of your elderly relatives by exploiting his or her finances. As noted by U.S. News and World Report, older adults lose billions of dollars each year and fail to report this type of abuse to their loved ones.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse, 10% of adults over 60 have experienced some form of exploitation or abuse. Because it does not typically result in physical signs, financial abuse may go unnoticed by family members. If one of your loved ones, however, appears somewhat sheepish when asked about financial matters, he or she may have discovered money missing and not know how to discuss it.
Common red flags when an elder experiences financial abuse
Signs of possible financial exploitation may include unusual spending habits, such as maxed-out credit cards or an overdrawn checking account. An abuser may have persuaded an elderly adult to add him or her as a joint account owner or an authorized user on credit cards. Unpaid utility bills may also indicate that an individual diverted resources away from a senior.
How abuse may take place
Whether living at home or in a residential care center, seniors may fall victim to financial abuse through threats, coercion or harassment. Elders might give in to an abuser’s request, especially when dependent on a caretaker’s assistance. While “appropriating” small sums of money from an elderly relative may not appear harmful enough for a confrontation at first, it may lead to lasting damage.
Financial exploitation may affect a senior’s ability to pay his or her healthcare and housing expenses; it may also harm an estate’s resources, which could go unnoticed until after death. Taking control of an elderly relative’s finances to prevent harmful abuse may require revising an estate plan and executing legal documents such as powers of attorney.