We previously addressed the signs of physical, sexual, and emotional elder abuse. While those types of abuse account for horrific cases of abuse of loved ones, they are not the only type of abuse. In fact, experts suggest that the single most common type of abuse affecting seniors is financial exploitation.
What is Financial Exploitation?
The Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations Oregon Administrative Rules define financial exploitation. Basically it is wrongfully taking a senior’s money, assets, property, or medication. This wrongful taking can be through lies, tricks, force, harassment, or undue influence. It also includes the misuse or misappropriation of money from a senior’s bank accounts, or failing to use the elder person’s resources for the benefit, support, and maintenance of that person.
How Common is Financial Exploitation?
Unfortunately, financial exploitation of the elderly is all too common. The National Adult Protective Services Association provides statistics on the prevalence of elder abuse. According to their research, 1 in 20 older adults indicate some form of recent perceived financial mistreatment. However, on one out of every forty-four cases of financial abuse is ever reported. One out of ten financial abuse victims will have to resort to care provided by Medicaid due to their abuse. Those who suffer from cognitive impairment and who need assistant with daily activities are most at risk for this sort of abuse.
What are the Effects of Financial Exploitation?
Financial abuse is not simply a matter of money. Just as physical or sexual abuse can affect victims in more than immediate ways, so can financial abuse. It can result in depression and a loss of an ability to trust. Victims may feel shame, fear, anger, or many other negative emotions. Due to the advanced age and often deteriorating health of victims they often will not be able to replace their assets through employment. This can result in an inability to care for oneself or even a loss of residence. This is why it is so important for concerned family members to help the abuse victim to get in touch with an elder abuse attorney who can help them recover their assets through the legal system.
What are the Signs of Financial Exploitation
As with other types of abuse, the Oregon Department of Human Services has created a list of warning signs that your loved one may be a victim of financial exploitation. Those signs include:
- Unusual or inappropriate activity surrounding investment properties or in bank accounts, including the use of ATM cards, to make large or repeated withdrawals.
- Signatures on checks, etc. that do not resemble the person’s signature, or signatures when the person cannot write.
- Power of attorney given, or recent changes in or creation of a will or trust, when the person is incapable of making such decisions.
- Unpaid bills, overdue rent, utility shut-off notices.
- Excessive spending by a caregiver on himself for new clothing, jewelry, automobiles.
- Lack of spending on the care of the person, including personal grooming items.
- Missing personal belongings, such as art, silverware or jewelry.
- Recent sale of assets and properties.
If you believe an elderly loved one is suffering or has suffered from any type of abuse, contact an Oregon elder abuse attorney. If you believe a crime has been committed you should also call the police, and if there is a medical emergency you should dial 9-1-1.
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