Insights into Elder Abuse

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day


Worlk Elder Abuse Awareness Day Banner

Types of Elder Abuse

Being aware of the different types of Elder Abuse is critical to recognizing it and acting.  Most types of Elder Abuse fall into these categories:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Neglect or Abandonment
  • Financial Abuse

To find out more about these kinds of abuse, we recommend that you visit or contact your local department of aging.

In our practice, we mostly deal with some of the forms of Financial Abuse, which can include:  Theft, Exploitation, Threats & Blackmail, Fraud, Scams, Identity Theft.  Because we do monitor bank and credit card transactions and interact with our clients at least monthly, we are well-positioned to recognize many of the red flags that can indicate financial fraud, scams, and coercion.

How to Identify Financial Abuse

Those most at risk of financial abuse are older adults who live alone and have little social interaction.  They may be dependent on one or two people who therefore have some power over them.  Widows who have never managed household finances are easy prey.  Approximately 1 in 20 seniors are at risk.  Some things that might indicate a problem are

  • Unusual mood changes, fear, or anxiety
  • Increased secrecy
  • New ‘friend’, romantic or otherwise
  • Isolating behavior of elder or influencer
  • Unexplained charges on accounts
  • Volumes of mail solicitations
  • Frequent phone calls
  • Inability to pay bills due to lack of funds; bounced checks
  • Unknown accounts on credit report
  • Changes to Will or Power of Attorney that don’t make sense

Unfortunately, most financial abuse occurs at the hands of those closest to the victim, including relatives, friends, and other trusted individuals.  Americans lose over $28 billion annually according to a recent AARP report.  Having any form of dementia or cognitive impairment dramatically increases risk.

How to Report

If you or a loved one has experienced any of the above forms of financial abuse, you should do the following:

  1. File a Police Report – this is critical to getting restitution.
  2. Notify your local Adult Protective Services
  3. If the abuse involves a long-term care facility, notify the Long-term Care Ombudsman in the area.
  4. National Center on Elder Abuse has a number of resources to help you.

How to Protect

Yourself.  Be kind, lovable, caring, and outward focused.  Be grateful for the small things.  The more you complain, criticize, control, and generally make yourself unlovable, the more likely you are to be neglected and isolated.  Isolation makes you vulnerable to abuse and cognitive decline.  Also be a little skeptical and get help to do research before agreeing to pay for things.   Stay connected through a senior center or move to a retirement community.  There is strength in numbers.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Loved ones.   Contact them often.  Put finances on the table even when it is uncomfortable.  Provide oversight by checking their account statements.  Make sure they stay social.  Check their credit reports; places freezes on credit accounts.  Limit online activity if necessary.  Avoid having them use debit cards.  We recommend two sets of eyes on everything!

It is not easy for older adults to navigate safety in our increasingly online world.  They need assistance to accomplish many things that younger adults take for granted.

What You Need To Know

We’ve all heard the saying “respect your elders”.  Unfortunately, in our culture we are conditioned to worship youthfulness, and it impacts our ability to see beyond the face, body and mind of someone up in years.  We find it easy to dismiss them as irrelevant and out-of-touch.  But if you spend time with people, you get to know them and by listening to their memories you can truly appreciate the life they have led and gain new respect and insight…maybe even for your own life.

If you have a loved one who has been a victim of financial abuse, know that they are prone to having it happen again.  While we can’t prevent all abuse, we do have strategies that can limit the risk.  Our industry members ( see it often and are educated in prevention techniques.

For more information, follow Paper Tigress on Facebook or Linked In.  The links are below.

Your financial stability is our top priority.

Your health and peace of mind are worth every step of this journey.