Why Is Financial Elder Abuse a Growing Problem?

Unfortunately, elder abuse occurs every day in the U.S. Mistreatment of seniors can take many forms including abandonment or neglect, physical, psychological, verbal, sexual or financial abuse. Of all types, financial elder abuse is one of the most common and can have devastating consequences for the targeted senior.

This type of abuse can be inflicted by a trusted caregiver or by a scammer on the outside. The caregiver, often a close family member, uses their position of influence to establish control over the elder’s budget or property and may pilfer the victim’s accounts, use their credit cards or personal checks, cash social security or other income checks for their own use, or steal valuable items from the senior’s household. Con artists target the elderly through many types of fraudulent schemes, through use of telemarketing, the internet or even done in person.

It is generally acknowledged that financial exploitation of seniors is a growing problem, but why is this form of elder abuse occurring more and more frequently?

The senior age group, as a percentage of the populace as a whole, is getting larger every day. The sheer number of elderly people who may be targeted for mistreatment is a factor. Abusers know that this large group holds a disproportionately higher share of accumulated wealth due to their many years of earning a living, saving and investing. These facts combined with harsh economic times faced by the potential abuser increases the likelihood for financial elder abuse.

Some sociologists claim that close proximity in the family to assets or wealth can create a stronger sense of entitlement. A son, daughter or grandchild may begin to believe that because of family ties they have an immediate claim to the elder’s money or possessions. They may even convince the victim that it is within the family member’s rights to take possession of certain assets in return for taking care of the senior.

Abusers of the elderly normally count on the isolation of the victim in order to carry out the mistreatment. Whether it be a family member or a paid caregiver, if the senior depends on only one person for most or all of their care and well being, the situation could be ripe for financial and other abuse. In today’s society it is typical for family units to become more and more separated, increasing the chances that the elder is left with only one caregiver, with little or no oversight by other family or friends. If the senior’s family members are not in regular communication with each other, this makes it even easier for the abuse to go undetected.

Financial elder abuse is a serious concern and regrettably becoming more commonplace as societal norms change and our population ages. Understanding the reasons why the exploitation occurs is the first step in preventing this and other types of abuse of our valued senior citizens. If you believe that financial elder abuse might be occurring, you should contact a financial elder abuse lawyer immediately. With proper legal assistance, you might be able to better determine what has actually occurred and what options you may have to remedy the situation.