Elderly abuse is a rampant problem in the United States. Every year, at least 10 million seniors are abused or neglected. I say “at least,” because in actuality, countless others are likely suffering in silence. These kinds of cases often go unreported.

I’ve written before about the range of forms elderly abuse can take. It can be physical, taking the shape of pressure ulcers or dehydration. But today I want to talk about a different form of abuse among adults, one that is rapidly growing and also massively underreported: financial exploitation.

It can start with endless phone calls, asking a senior citizen, whose health has begun to decline, for money to save kids with cancer. It can start with notifications in the mail saying Grandpa has won the sweepstakes and just needs to pay a small amount to cover taxes. It can start when you visit the home of a relative who’s been living alone, who you realize has been giving money away or spending it foolishly.

Financial exploitation among elders — which is defined as the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property, or assets — is quite widespread.

Who is most vulnerable?

Heartbreakingly enough, those who are suffering from cognitive impairments that are already tragic in themselves, such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, are particularly susceptible to these crimes. A decline in mental or physical health is a big factor in financial exploitation cases.

Generally speaking, elders living fairly isolated lives, and who need assistance with day-to-day activities, are at risk.

A 2011 Study of Financial Elder Abuse by Metlife found that victims are often between the ages of 80 and 89. Women are more likely to be victims than men.

Often, abusers already know the victims.

People who are poised to take advantage of an elder’s cognitive decline are often close friends or relatives. Some studies put that number as high as 90%. They tend to fall into a pattern and fit the following characteristics.

  • Abusers feel a sense of entitlement with respect to the abused elder’s belongings, and may stand to inherit money or material possessions when the elder dies.
  • They may have personally struggled with finances, drugs, or alcohol.
  • They may have negative feelings or personal tension with other relatives who also stand to inherit something from the elder.

How can we prevent it?

Take steps to prevent financial abuse before the warning signs are visible. Those who are isolated are the most susceptible to exploitation. With that in mind, one of the best strategies for protecting a senior is to create a strong support system. Have enough conversations over time to help you understand your loved one’s state of financial affairs and overall health.

Financial Elder Abuse Lawyer Memphis TN

If you suspect that an elder in your life has been neglected or abused — in a nursing home or elsewhere — call us at (901) 327-1212 or contact us online. You can rest assured we want to put an end to this awful abuse.