Elder abuse is a rampant and painful problem in this country, and a range of people could perpetrate it. These include a relative, a hired companion, a nursing home employee or anyone else who has contact with the person.
When you imagine the abuse of an older individual, you typically think of some physical harm. But there is another dangerous kind of abuse that can go largely undetected — financial abuse. It tends to pass under the radar because there are no physical signs.
How might someone be stealing your parent’s money?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines financial abuse of an elder as “the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an elder’s money, benefits, belongings, property, or assets for the benefit of someone other than the older adult.” The National Institute on Aging suggests it can include things such as:
- Forging checks
- Taking someone else’s retirement or Social Security benefits
- Using a person’s credit cards and bank accounts without their permission
- Changing names on a will, bank account, life insurance policy, or title to a house
The older adults preyed upon in this manner may have mobility problems, communication issues or be unaware of what is going on around them due to illness or cognitive limitations. Thus, they might not be capable of paying careful attention to their credit card or bank statements and spotting unusual activity.
What can you do for an aging loved one who suffers financial abuse?
Stay alert on your loved one’s behalf for anything that seems out of place. Discuss the topic with them, and do not be afraid to seek advice if you think elder abuse has occurred.