Since 2013, financial institutions have filed more than 180,000 suspicious activity reports targeting older adults, totaling more than $6 billion.

Financial exploitation is a fast-growing form of abuse of seniors and adults with disabilities. Situations of financial exploitation commonly involve trusted persons in the life of the vulnerable adult, such as:

  • Caretakers
  • Family members
  • Neighbors
  • Friends and acquaintances
  • Attorneys
  • Bank employees
  • Pastor
  • Doctors or nurses

Recent research has found that elder financial exploitation is widespread, expensive, even deadly. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association:

  • One in nine seniors reported being abused, neglected or exploited in the past twelve months; the rate of financial exploitation is extremely high, with 1 in 20 older adults indicating some form of perceived financial mistreatment occurring in the recent past
  • Elder abuse is vastly under-reported; only one in 44 cases of financial abuse is ever reported
  • Abused seniors are three times more likely to die and elder abuse victims are four times more likely to go into a nursing home
  • 90% of abusers are family members or trusted others
  • Almost one in ten financial abuse victims will turn to Medicaid as a direct result of their own monies being stolen from them
  • Cognitive impairment and the need for help with activities of daily living make victims more vulnerable to financial abuse

The effects of financial exploitation on a vulnerable adult are devastating. The individual frequently experiences:

  • Loss of trust in others
  • Loss of security
  • Depression
  • Feelings of fear, shame, guilt, anger, self-doubt, remorse, worthlessness
  • Financial destitution
  • Inability to replace lost assets through employment
  • Inability to hire attorney to pursue legal protections and remedies
  • Becoming reliant on government ‘safety net’ programs
  • Inability to provide long term care needs
  • Loss of primary residence

Interventions to address financial abuse include closing joint bank accounts, having the victim revoke the power of attorney; putting in place a responsible person or agency to assist with managing the victim’s funds; and restarting utilities if they’ve been shut off.

Check out this compiled list of resources to help combat the exploitation of older Americans.

Source: https://www.napsa-now.org/get-informed/exploitation-resources/

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