Elderly people are uniquely vulnerable to financial abuse for a number of reasons. For instance, elderly people tend to have more money and property than their younger counterparts; age often brings with it illness and mental decline, requiring reliance on others for assistance; and many older people don’t know the full value of their assets.
Identifying Financial Abuse
Of all the forms of elder abuse, financial abuse can be the most subtle. After all, it doesn’t leave any physical scars, and victims may even be unaware that they’re being abused. Plus, elder abuse can take a wide variety of forms. It can include telemarketing scams; deceiving or coercing an elderly person into signing a deed, power of attorney, or will; using an elderly person’s property without their consent; or outright theft of an elderly person’s money or possessions.
Although financial elder abuse can be hard to detect, there are certain signs or patterns that may indicate an elderly person is being taken advantage of. These include:
- Unexplained withdrawals from a bank account, or missing money or property
- A newly-signed will, deed, or power of attorney that an elderly person doesn’t understand
- Unpaid bills, particularly when there should be sufficient money to cover an elderly person’s expenses
- An elderly person living in a situation that is far below his or her means
- A caregiver who seems unusually preoccupied with an elderly person’s financial situation or property
- A caregiver who attempts to isolate an elderly person from friends and family
What to Do if You Suspect Abuse
If you’re a Florida resident, and you suspect an elderly friend or loved one is the victim of financial abuse, you can call the Florida Abuse Hotline at 1-800-962-2873 or go to http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/abuse/report.shtml.