Elder financial abuse spans a broad spectrum of conduct, including: taking money or property, forging an older person's signature, getting an older person to sign a deed, will, or power of attorney through deception, coercion, or undue influence, etc.
According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) knowledge about elder abuse lags as much as two decades behind the fields of child abuse and domestic violence. The need for more research is urgent and it is an area that calls out for a coordinated, systematic approach that includes policymakers, researchers, and funders.
Though we would like to believe perpetrators of such crimes are nameless and faceless, they are most likely to be adult children or spouses, and of these, more likely to be male, to have a history of past or current substance abuse, to have mental or physical health problems, to have a history of trouble with the police, to be socially isolated, to be unemployed or have financial problems, or to be experiencing major stress.
An article released by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2015 stated:
"Financial abuse can be a devastating form of elder abuse. If you're concerned about an older friend or relative, here are some things to consider.
To spot financial abuse, look for sudden changes in the older person's financial situation, such as:
Suspicious changes in wills or powers of attorney — out of the blue, your grandfather wills all of his belongings to his new nurse.
- Financial activity the person could not have done herself: You discover repeated ATM withdrawals from your bedridden mother's bank account.
- Bills not being paid–When visiting a neighbor, you see mail piling up on his desk. Maybe his caregiver is using his money for something other than paying bills.
- Significant withdrawals or unusual purchases: You notice charges for fancy electronics on your thrifty aunt's credit card bill.
- If you see these signs and you're worried that someone's misusing a loved one's personal information, IdentityTheft.gov explains what steps to take." Click here to read more from the FTC.
- If you think you see elder abuse, report it! If there is immediate physical danger, call 911. Otherwise, contact your local Adult Protective Services (APS).