Worried about financial abuse in seniorhood? You’re not alone. The fact is that financial elder abuse is on the rise and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Even the trend towards digital cash over cash-in-hand hasn’t stemmed the flow; in some ways, it’s actually caused it to become worse. Seniors don’t just have to worry about their wallets now, they must also worry about their debit card, credit card, online payment wallet, and online bank account, too. Understanding exactly why and how financial abuse happens can empower you to prevent it in the future.
1 in 5 Elders is Abused Financially
Nearly a fifth of all elders in America report being abused at one point or another. It’s a staggeringly high number that includes both financial fraud like telephone scams and direct financial abuse by family members, but that doesn’t make it any easier to hear.
9 in 10 People Who Abuse Elders Financially are Family
The picture becomes even bleaker when you consider that the overwhelming majority of financially abused elders are abused by family members, not strangers. In difficult economic times, loved ones — especially children — can slip from asking for money to get by into full-on desperation that leads to lying, theft, and manipulation to get what they need. Make no mistake; even just repeatedly pushing an elder to give you money is abusive, especially if the abuser is trying to guilt them into helping in the first place. Some will even threaten their senior family members with expulsion from the home or a lack of assistance with basic daily chores in order to manipulate them into giving money.
Financial Abuse Costs American Seniors Billions Each year
According to an infographic by USN, financial abuse strips seniors of approximately $36.5 billion dollars per year in lost funds. That includes both scams and extortion from caretakers or loved ones. Despite how widespread the abuse is, only one person for every 44 abused ever reports the abuse, with most simply sweeping it under the rug because they feel they have little to no recourse. Nothing could be further from the truth!
What to Do If You Believe You’re Being Abused Financially
If you think someone may be abusing you financially, the first and most important step to take is to get yourself to a safe place as soon as possible — even if that happens to be your doctor’s office or the community drop-in center. Then, contact an Elder Abuse Hotline. They’ll help you determine a plan of action to keep yourself protected and safe going forward. You do NOT have to simply put up with financial abuse, and you are NOT a “bad parent” for refusing to continue to allow the abuse. If you’re not sure whether your situation falls under this category, call the Elder Abuse hotline anyway — they will speak with you and help you to break everything down so that you can better understand.
By calling this number, you can get the Elder Abuse Hotline number for your state: 1-800-677-1116,