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Elder Abuse and Financial Exploitation: What Are They?

Unfortunately, financial abuse and exploitation is a reality many seniors face in their retirement. Strikingly, financial institutions have reported the number of these incidents tripling since 2017. And no matter how big or small the deception may be, it leaves elders financially and even emotionally devastated.

The question remains: how can you protect yourself and your loved ones from it? Having a solid understanding of what elder financial abuse and exploitation is, how to spot red flags, and what preventative measures can be put in place is a great place to start.

What is elder financial abuse and exploitation?
Elder financial abuse and exploitation are when someone within the elder’s life misuses or takes advantage of their assets for their own benefit. Oftentimes, it is done without the consent or knowledge of the victim and can leaves them without significant financial resources they worked hard to save. The worst part is family, friends, or even caregivers can commit elder abuse or financial exploitation. It is not uncommon for force, harassment, or threats to be involved either.

Why does elder financial abuse go unreported?
It is estimated billions of dollars per year is lost to elder abuse and financial exploitation. And sadly, financial exploitation can be even harder than physical elder abuse to detect. Circumstances vary and warning signs are not always prevalent.

There are four major reasons why the financial abuse goes unreported:
1. A trusted family member or caregiver is the abuser
2. Vulnerable older adult doesn’t know it happened until too late
3. Victim experiences overwhelming shame
4. Elder doesn’t know who to tell or where to report

The abuser may be someone the senior relies on for basic needs and care and fearing further abuse and retaliation is often part of the situation to why the abuse goes unreported. A victim’s lack of mentality or physical ability also factors into why the abuse may go unreported.

​Reporting the exploitation and abuse can be a very overwhelming experience. And the process varies immensely state to state. Fortunately, your local adult protective services can help guide you through the process for you or a loved one and point you to resources you didn’t even know of.

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