June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and the month of June is Elder Abuse Awareness Month, so it is important to understand the types of abuse the elderly commonly suffer, the consequences of this abuse, and some ways to prevent abuse from happening. This article will focus on financial abuse.

The CDC explains Elder Abuse as an “intentional act, or failure to act” that creates a risk of harm to adults aged 60 and older. About one in every ten people aged 60 and older experience abuse. The most common forms of elder abuse, according to the CDC, are neglect and physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial abuse.

The world has seen an increase in elder abuse recently because of the social distancing regulations recommended during the Covid-19 pandemic. With the elderly more isolated from loved ones and caregivers, they are becoming more and more susceptible to the “virtual pandemic” of elder financial abuse. Elder financial abuse is the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an elder’s money, benefits, belongings, or assets for the benefit of someone other than the elder. Elder financial abuse has many forms and can be perpetrated by an unknown individual or by someone who is known and trusted. Unknown individuals can take unauthorized money from elders in many ways, like telemarketing scams, phishing schemes or fake door to door sales pitches that require immediate personal account information. Known individuals can take unauthorized money from elders in many ways, like abusing and draining joint accounts or demanding money for a fake and/or urgent emergency.

Elders who suffer any form of abuse may have many lasting consequences. Though elder financial abuse might not result in physical effects like broken bones, cuts, or bruises, the emotional and mental effects they experience can follow them the rest of their lives. The emotional and mental distress elders can feel after financial abuse can lead to many physical problems down the road.

It is important to be familiar with the ways in which elder abuse can happen and frequently check in with elderly family members or friends, as well as their caregivers, to prevent any form of abuse. If abuse is detected or suspected, it is important to report it immediately and get help.

The staff at YHB strives to look out for the financial well-being of their clients.  With our older clients, potential fraud is not always obvious.  We are alert to the signs and urge family members and caregivers to learn what to look for as well.