8 Signs An Elderly Person May Be Suffering From Financial Abuse
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on April 12, 2022
While signs of physical abuse of seniors are often more obvious, including bruising, cuts, scrapes, bed sores, broken bones, and more, financial abuse can often be much more difficult to detect until significant damage is done.
Seniors are often the ideal victims of financial abuse because they are more likely to be socially isolated, mentally impaired in some way, and especially trusting of and dependent on caregivers including family members, friends, neighbors, paid helpers, nursing home staff, and medical care providers. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), upwards of five million older Americans are abused each year, with the loss caused by the financial abuse of seniors thought to total at least $36.5 billion.
Financial abuse and exploitation of seniors is a phrase used to describe the misuse of an elderly person’s financial resources which may include outright theft, withholding of funds, financial deception and more. While both men and women have been found guilty of elder abuse, according to the NCOA, in almost three out of five cases of elder abuse and neglect, the perpetrator is a relative. Two out of three perpetrators of elder abuse are either adult children or spouses.
Just like in other places, elder abuse is common in the state of Kentucky. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, in 2015 the Kentucky Department of Community Based Services got over 30,000 phone calls from people concerned about elders ages 60 and elder. Just under half of those calls met the criteria for an adult protective services investigation to be instigated under KRS 2019.
If you are concerned that a senior you love is the victim of some type of financial exploitation or abuse, it may help to speak to an authority. Sometimes this may include an adult protective social worker. Certain attorneys are also experienced at handling elder abuse. Regardless it is helpful to be able to identify some of the common signs of elder abuse. Follow along for 8 common signs of elder financial abuse.
8 Signs of Elder Financial Abuse
- Bills that are not getting paid. When an individual typically pays all their usual bills (mortgages, utilities, etc.) on time for much of their life and suddenly stops paying, it can be a sign of financial abuse. While it may signal a growing forgetfulness, it may also represent a dramatic change in financial status that needs to be addressed.
- Missing valuable personal items. Sometimes financial elder abuse doesn’t involve a bank account but involves personal items instead. Jewelry, coins, art, electronics, gold, silver and other valuables may disappear. When the elderly individual is not sure where these items are, it may be time for concern.
- Strange and odd patterns in bank account spending. When an elderly person suddenly starts withdrawing large amounts of money from a bank account or engaging in other atypical behavior with their bank account spending it can be a sign that something is wrong.
- Unusual changes in banking patterns. When an elderly person suddenly starts using banking tools like ATM machines to withdraw money, after never having used these in the past, it can signify that something is wrong. This may be particularly concerning if the elderly individual is unable to drive or physically access the ATM machines without assistance from others.
- Unexpected changes to a will or other financial documents. When an elderly person makes sudden and expected changes to financial documents or a will, it can be a red flag that something is going on. This may be especially concerning if the elderly person claims to have made written changes to a document when their own ability to write does not reflect the changes made.
- Unexpected changes to property deeds. Sometimes elderly people are swayed to sign over titles to homes or vehicles as a way to secure personal help. When this sort of thing is happening, it can be a sign of financial exploitation.
- A lack of food, clean clothing, personal care items and more. When an elderly person has had the resources to get themselves the food and personal care items they need and enjoy, it is unusual to find them in a situation where they do not have these things. This can be a sign that either they may be experiencing some neglect, or that their finances have in some way been negatively affected.
- Sudden social withdrawal, depression, hopelessness, or fearful behavior. Many seniors that are experiencing some type of abuse feel dependent in some way on the person engaging in the abusive behavior. This can lead to a lot of mixed emotions including depression and anxiety. A visible change in temperament can be a sign of financial elder abuse.
If you or a loved one has been victimized or harmed by a nursing home facility or other similar organization in Kentucky, the experienced team at Cooper and Friedman PLLC can help. Our attorneys are trained to understand your rights and take the steps necessary to ensure the protection of you or your family member. Call 502-459-7555 now to speak with an experienced elder law attorney for a free case consultation.