World Elder Abuse Day is celebrated every June 15. While it’s definitely not a fun holiday, it is a very important one. Elder abuse is a topic that isn’t often talked about, even though talking about it can help prevent it.
While physical elder abuse is a very real and scary threat, we’re talking about financial elder abuse. Yes, that’s a thing! It’s hard to think about our parents or grandparents being taken advantage of as they age, but unfortunately, it happens all the time. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, 5% of older adults have indicated some form of financial mistreatment.
Join us as we spread the word about what signs to look for and how to prevent elder abuse.
Financial elder abuse, otherwise known as financial elder exploitation, is the misuse of withholding of an elderly person’s resources to the disadvantage of the elderly person or the advantage of someone else. This type of abuse typically comes from someone who is highly trusted by the victim. The most common perpetrators include caretakers, family members, neighbors, attorneys, and friends.
That list is pretty eye opening! I mean, who would ever suspect their friends and family of abuse? We know it’s hard to look past a trustworthy exterior, so here are a few signs of an abuser:
- • Not allowing the elderly person to speak for him or herself
- • Socially isolating the elderly person from others
- • Verbally assaulting, threatening, or insulting the elderly person
- • Concern only for the elderly person’s financial situation
- • Placing blame or anger toward the elderly person
What do you do if you witness some of these signs in someone you know? To begin with, there is a number at the bottom of this post that you can call at any time to report suspected financial elder abuse. However, you should also keep an eye out for these signs of abuse in the elderly individual as well:
- • Missing money
- • Unusual credit/debit card activity
- • Unpaid bills/collection notices
- • Lack of food or other necessities
- • Missing possessions
- • Sudden change in the mood or behavior
If you notice any of those signs, don’t hesitate to call the number at the bottom of this post. If financial elder abuse is happening, it could be due to one of these common abuse practices:
- • Power of Attorney/Joint Account holder using a victim’s assets for their own gain
- • Stealing from ATM/Debit cards or checks
- • Refusing to get the victim medical care so there will be more money available for the abuser
- • Care providers keeping change from errands, paying personal bills, falsifying time sheets, or spending work time doing non-work related activities
These signs of abusers and being abused, as well as the list of potential practices, are only some of the hundreds of ways elder abuse can unfold. If you have an elderly person in your life, please be on high alert. It’s also important to keep in contact with elderly family members and friends. Abusers tend to prey on those without a strong support system.
If you suspect financial elder abuse, reach out to someone immediately. It is easiest and most effective to call the Illinois Department on Aging at 800-252-8966 or 800-279-0400. You can also reach out to local law enforcement, who should be able to investigate the situation. Don’t hesitate to notify someone – it could save a loved one’s life!