According to many estimates, for every one case of elder abuse that is reported, there are five that go unheard of. But just because these instances are unreported does not mean that they are not occurring. Elder abuse is, unfortunately widespread, and it’s also very hard to spot in many cases.
One of the most commonly occurring types of elder abuse is financial abuse. In short, financial abuse is any type of theft of misuse of financial resources. It can happen through outright theft, extortion, or any number of variations of these things.
However, the big issue that we face when it comes to financial abuse is the fact that it is so hard to detect. Oftentimes, elderly individuals never even know that they have been taken advantage of. The sad part about financial abuse is that it usually is committed by a trusted member of the family. This is why we encourage transparency and accountability when it comes to helping an older family member keep their finances straight.
It is important that we be on the lookout for signs of financial abuse and senior abuse in general. Knowing how to spot instances of financial abuse when helping out our elderly family members is just one more way in which we can provide for their needs as they age. We’ve listed out some of the things to be on the lookout for. But we should also warn that as technology becomes more and more a part of the lives of seniors, new and previously unknown types of financial abuse are likely to develop in the future.
First, it’s important to make sure that your elderly mom or dad feels completely comfortable and safe with you. They should trust you, and be able to talk openly with you about their thoughts and concerns. If something is going where another family member or a caregiver is acting suspiciously, you want them to be able to trust you enough that they will tell you.
Having multiple people involved in the caregiving process can also help. This way there are multiple safeguards built into your loved one’s safety. If something illegal or abusive is happening, there will be more than one set of eyes to spot it. One other way that financial abuse can be avoided is to enlist the help of a professional in-home care service. Having a caregiver helping with finances, and having these things double checked by a few family members can provide for one extra layer of safety for your loved ones. When these checks are put in place, discrepancies in their checking accounts and other places can be seen more easily. Suspicious charges, missing money, and other similar issues are more easily detected when more than one person has access to records.
If you do believe that senior abuse is occurring, financial or otherwise, get in touch with your local police department. The local department of social services can also be helpful, especially in delicate situations. It is important that we keep our family members safe, and preventing financial abuse is one of the ways we can do so.