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It’s horrible to imagine someone taking advantage of your elderly loved one’s financial situation, but the unfortunate reality is that is happens all the time.
Studies on financial abuse and exploitation of the elderly provide a wide range of statistics. Statistics of total annual costs vary widely, with minimums of $3 billion each year and some reports estimating as high as $36 billion. Victims of elder financial abuse are not alone, either—making up between 5 and 20 percent of people 65 and older in the United States.
Elder financial abuse and exploitation can vary widely, and not all studies of nursing home and elder abuse consider this category in their reports. If you are familiar with the types of elder financial abuse, you can more easily identify it happening to the people you care about.
These four types of elder financial exploitation cover a range of abusive behaviors.
The elderly can be both manipulated and extorted by loved ones, caregivers, or even strangers. These parties may threaten, intimidate, or frighten them into giving up money, resources, property, or other assets, actions which qualify as extortion.
Manipulation can look equally as tragic. Imagine a caregiver promising to care for an elderly person for the rest of their lifetime in exchange for property or money. Then, imagine that promise revealed to be a lie. This situation is just one example of financial manipulation.
Taking money, resources, property, valuables, or medication from an elderly person without their permission is financial abuse. Other circumstances, such as using their credit cards without authorization or identity theft schemes to steal entire bank accounts, are also forms of theft.
The elderly are particularly vulnerable to fraud, cons, and scams, due to factors such as lack of hearing, dementia, or confusion. Fraud can take place online, over the phone, or in person. Any situation in which an elderly person is tricked into giving access to their finances or property is considered fraud.
Abuse when it comes to documentation, especially legal documentation, can be anything from forcing the elderly person to sign wills, deeds, or loans to forging their signature on checks.
Are bills remaining unpaid? Is their care substandard, even though you know they can afford it? Have you noticed ATM withdrawals they could not have made? Are they unaware of their own financial situation? When these questions come up, they could be signs of financial exploitation.
The warning signs of nursing home and elder abuse of any type are primarily identified by sudden changes. Pay careful attention to unexplained differences in their financial situation.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one is being abused, exploited, or neglected, contact the Indianapolis Nursing Home and Elder Abuse Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.