The Dark Side of Aging: 5 Aspects of Financial Exploitation of the Elderly That Should Be Discussed More Often

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Mahatma Gandhi once said- “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”.


As we age, and our mental agility slows, we become more vulnerable to financial exploitation. It is up to those around us, and the legal mechanisms in place in society to protect us. Most victims of financial exploitation are between the ages of 80 and 89.


A recent study estimated that financial elder abuse costs the US $36.5 billion annually. We as a society must explore ways to reduce the prevalence of financial exploitation among the elderly.


One way of doing this is by discussing the financial exploitation of the elderly more often. By making ourselves aware of it, and its many guises, we can protect our friends and family as they approach old age.


It often goes unreported


Only one in 44 cases of financial exploitation of the elderly ever gets reported. One reason for this is that the victims of financial exploitation often feel a great deal of shame or embarrassment.


Also, the victims of financial exploitation are often suffering from some kind of cognitive impairment, like Alzheimer’s or dementia. Many never realize they have fallen victim to financial exploitation.


Those living in social isolation are the most at risk


Those living with a physical or mental disability are the most at risk of financial exploitation. They often lack supporting relationships in the form of friends and family that can detect signs of exploitation and report instances to the police.


It can take many guises


Financial exploitation can occur in many different forms. Sometimes it is clear-cut, for example, an internet or phone scam that fleeces the individual of money, however, at other times it can be far harder to detect.


A friend or loved one could be systematically removing money from the victim’s bank account, they could be tricking the victim into transferring or loaning them money, knowing the victim would later forget, or it could involve changes to the will.


Undue influence is another way elderly people are deceived out of money. This occurs when a friend or family member exercises improper influence to change their will and estate plan to that person’s benefit.


These cases can be particularly destructive, because they are often discovered after the older person dies, leaving them unable to offer an explanation for their actions.


If you or someone you know has been affected by undue influence, head to today.


It often occurs in conjunction with other crimes


Financial exploitation can often be an indicator of other crimes being carried out against an elderly person. Once investigations begin, family members and police sometimes find evidence of neglect, or physical and sexual abuse occurring alongside financial exploitation.


It is significantly underfunded


The National Institute on Aging spends just 0.1% of its budget on researching cases of financial elder abuse and its prevention. This means that little is being done to improve the situation. In fact, with the population aging and the median age increasing, the situation is likely to worsen.


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