Elder Financial Abuse
Elder financial abuse is defined in Oregon as “wrongfully taking or appropriating money or property, or knowingly subjecting an elderly person…to alarm by conveying a threat to wrongfully take or appropriate money or property, which threat reasonably would be expected to cause the elderly person (65 years of age or older)…to believe that the threat will be carried out.” (ORS 124.005(g)) A few examples of elder financial abuse are as follows:
- taking money or property
- forging an elderly person’s signature
- obtaining an elderly person’s signature on a deed, will, or power of attorney using deception, coercion, or undue influence
- using an elderly person’s property without their permission
- promising lifelong care in exchange for money or property and not following through with the promise
Predatory individuals who seek out vulnerable seniors are among the most common perpetrators. Sadly, family members, including children and spouses, are often abusers as well.
As we age, we may suffer from dementia or other cognitive decline, making us easy targets for these predators. If you are caring for an elderly person, it is important to watch for any signs that they may be losing their financial acuity, making themselves “ripe” for financial abuse. Perhaps they are taking longer than usual to pay bills or file taxes. Or maybe, they are experiencing difficulty figuring a tip at a restaurant. Perhaps a “get-rich-quick” scheme they may never have entertained before sounds quite appealing to them.
If these, or any other red flags appear, it is crucial to step in and assist. The perpetrators of elder financial abuse are smart, and getting more sophisticated all the time with their tactics. If you are a senior and noticing that your financial skills are starting to wane, please don’t be afraid to ask for help from people you know you can trust. If you are caring for someone you believe may be at risk, or worse, already the victim of elder financial abuse, seek professional assistance quickly. The faster the issue is addressed, the less damage will be done, and the more likely the perpetrator will be caught and not able to harm anyone else.
If you would like to discuss a particular concern, or just learn more about how to protect against elder financial abuse, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would be happy to help you find the appropriate resources so that you and your loved ones are safe!
For more information:
Elder Financial Abuse – Let’s Talk About It