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What are the signs of elder financial abuse?

The elderly are vulnerable to many different types of abuse, including theft of their finances. The National Adult Protective Services Association reports that instances of elder financial abuse are on the rise, increasing substantially in the past 10 years.

If you have an elderly relative in the care of another, learning the signs of this type of abuse may help protect his or her finances and address the problem as soon as possible.

Types of theft

While financial abuse generally involves the theft of an elderly person’s money, it can happen in a variety of ways. The person or persons involved may use different tactics to gain control of a checking account or other funds, including:

  • Verbal threats
  • Coercion
  • Signature fraud

If your elder loved one undergoes a change in behavior regarding his or her finances or cannot explain certain charges on a credit card, you may want to discuss the issue with the individual who has control over the money accounts.

Common culprits

In cases of elder financial abuse, family members often commit the offense. However, others involved in the life of your elder loved one may either coax or steal funds for their own gain, such as neighbors, members of a local church or those who run scams over the telephone or via email. If your loved one has any kind of dementia or memory loss, the risk of financial abuse is higher.

Gaining power of attorney may help you prevent any further abuse of your elder loved one. In the meantime, remind him or her to avoid sharing financial information with anyone, including family members who have no business asking for it.

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