Elder financial abuse is a serious concern for many seniors. While your clients have likely taken care of their own finances all their lives, in those later years, new challenges may arise that lead to them welcoming help from other sources. Unfortunately, not all of those sources are the caring helpers they’d like. If you notice any of these signs of elder financial abuse, it’s important to report it immediately.
Sign #1: Bills are Unpaid
Even though in-home caregivers are not directly involved in a client’s finances, over time, however, you may start to notice that things aren’t being paid that should be: the electricity may go unpaid, the rent not taken care of, and more.
Sign #2: There’s Someone New in Their Life
While dating isn’t an immediate sign of financial abuse, it is important for a designated individual (e.g. family member or guardian) to keep a closer eye on a client’s finances. Often, a new individual who sweeps in–especially one who is much younger–is doing it for their personal gain.
Sign #3: You Know Someone is Demanding Money
There’s a grandchild who only shows up to ask for things. A child frequently asks for expensive “gifts” and acts incredibly spoiled when they don’t get them. Regular demands for money from a client can be a sign that there’s more serious financial abuse going on behind the scenes.
Sign #4: Standard of Living Decreases Significantly
Suddenly, things that your client used to take for granted seem to be out of reach. They aren’t eating out like they used to, or they can’t afford things that were once normal. If there’s a serious shift in standard of living, consider the possibility that elder abuse might be involved.
Sign #5: Your Client’s Wishes are Ignored
In some cases, an elderly individual will pass power of attorney or financial control over to someone else in those later years. That doesn’t mean, however, that their wishes should be ignored! If there are regular complaints about how someone else is handling their money, it’s important to figure out how the money is being spent and whether or not things are being handled well with it.
If you feel your client is experiencing financial abuse, it’s important to report it immediately. Financial abuse can turn serious very quickly. By staying alert, you can catch it early and protect your client. Contact the National Center on Elder Abuse for more information on reporting elder financial abuse.