One of the most vulnerable groups of Californians is seniors. Sadly, instead of being respected as they should be, they are often exploited and fall victim to crimes such as financial elder abuse. This is how financial elder abuse occurs and its effects.
Explaining financial elder abuse
Financial elder abuse happens when a person steals money or valuables from an older person. It occurs when the victim needs assistance to manage their finances. Elderly people with cognitive problems such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease often need such help. Unfortunately, financial elder abuse is usually perpetrated by someone close to the victim such as a family member, friend or aide. In some cases, a stranger commits the crime.
There are signs to look out for that signify financial elder abuse has occurred. Large amounts of money might go missing from the victim’s bank account. Credit card bills might begin to rack up with items bought that seem unusual for the person. Valuables might also go missing.
Bills going unpaid is a huge warning sign of financial elder abuse. If someone has been entrusted to pay on the person’s behalf and notice is given of delinquent bills, it signifies that something is wrong. Bills can also end up going to collections and utilities might suddenly be shut off. In the worst-case scenario, the victim might suddenly receive an eviction notice because of unpaid rent.
Financial elder abuse sometimes involves the victim’s estate planning documents. There may be unexplained changes to the person’s will or financial power of attorney.
Reporting financial elder abuse
If you suspect your loved one is a victim of financial elder abuse, report the crime to their bank and local police. The situation can be investigated and the perpetrator could be punished. Contact the state’s Adult Protective Services (APS) to report the financial abuse as well.
Financial elder abuse can be devastating to victims and their families.