Financial Elder Abuse a Growing Problem
How severe is financial elder abuse — defined as taking, concealing or misusing funds or assets of a senior — in the U.S.?
It has generally been thought that losses to seniors due to financial abuse are around $2.9 billion annually, as determined by insurer MetLife. However, a private financial services company released a new study, titled “The True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse 2015,” that found that the number is more like $36.5 billion, which is 12 times the previous estimate. The report also claims that 36.9 percent of seniors are affected by financial abuse over any given five-year interval. Around $17 billion is taken from seniors through legal, albeit misleading financial exploitation.
Additionally, the study found that one telemarketing call daily to a senior can mean that they experience three times as much financial loss as someone who receives no sales calls or even occasional calls. And around 954,000 elderly individuals are not able to afford three meals a day due to being victims of financial elder abuse.
The study also found that seniors who are younger, college-educated and urban lose more money than those who aren’t, which contradicts the notion that non-educated, older seniors are more likely to be preyed upon.
As our elderly population continues to live longer and healthier lives — seniors 85 and older are the fastest growing group — they are an easy target for financial abuse. Unfortunately, cognitive impairment of some kind or dementia in this age group (ages 80 to 89) is experienced by around half of the individuals.
The National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse provides these warning signs that a senior may be experiencing some form of financial abuse or exploitation:
- New “best friends”
- Bank statements no longer being sent to the home
- Unpaid bills
- Unexplained withdrawals and money transfers
- Care of the senior that is not equal to her or his financial estate
- Unusual interest on behalf of a caregiver in money being spent on the senior
- Missing property
- Questionable signatures on checks
- Confusion on behalf of the senior about financial situations created for him or her
Seniors should exercise caution when it comes to investments or retirement decisions. In addition, identity theft is a common issue for seniors who have experienced financial abuse.
To receive help or to help a loved one who has been the victim of financial elder abuse, contact the nationwide law offices of Garcia & Artigliere. We specialize in representing victims of elder abuse in nursing homes, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. If you or a family member has been the victim of any of the myriad forms of elder abuse, please contact one of our experienced lawyers to help you through this traumatic situation. Call us at 1-800-281-8515. Submit your case online for a free review.