Protection from Financial Elder Abuse


by Janice Wallace

Protecting your parent from financial elder abuse is an important parent care responsibility.  This type of abuse robs your parent of her moneyfinance, elder finance abuse and her freedom because money equals choice when it comes to elder care services. Financial elder abuse is defined as a person taking an elder’s money or property for his/her own needs.

Abusers sometimes use threats of abandonment or make the elder feel guilty to convince the elder to turn the control of assets over to them.  Sometimes, “feel good” tactics are used.  The abuser befriends a lonely senior in person or over the phone or taps into greed by convincing the senior that he has won a prize.

Financial elder abuse warning signs

  • Caregivers or family members who isolate the senior or speak for the senior
  • Increased withdrawals or credit card charges
  • Access to the elder’s account in ways that doesn’t match their abilities, for example a homebound senior making ATM withdrawals

Steps to protect against financial elder abuse:

  • Protect your parents’ sensitive financial information from identity theft by securing blank checks, bank and brokerage statements and credit cards if you have service providers in their home.
  • Shred incoming credit card applications and other unused financial documents.
  • Monitor your parent’s accounts for unusual activity
  • Discuss common financial scams with your parent.  The police department will have more information about scams that are going on in your local area.

Sadly, this abuse is sometimes committed by family members.  If your parent care responsibilities include serving as your parent’s agent in their power of attorney for finance, it is your responsibility to make sure your parent’s money is only used for their benefit.  This may mean some tough conversations with family members and your parents around loans and monetary gifts.

It’s important as a family to discuss your parent care values around protecting your parents’ money.  You can create a family agreement that outlines acceptable behavior based on your family values.  It might have some of these elements:

As a family we agree that

  • Mom and dad’s money is for their use and pleasure
  • We will not accept loans or large monetary gifts from mom and dad unless it is part of a well thought out estate planning strategy

Has your parent been the victim of financial elder abuse?  Tell us how you dealt with it.

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