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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Monday, August 18, 2014

Financial Exploitation is the Most Common Form of Elder Abuse

Unfortunately, financial exploitation of older adults is a serious and all-too-common problem. We actually wrote about it previously in a two-part series in the Caregiver Chronicle in March and May of this year.

Aug. 6 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine revealed some troubling statistics about the abuse of senior citizens.

Researchers interviewed more than 4,000 adults over the age of 60 living in New York. They found:

  • As many as one in 20 older adults in the U.S. may be financially exploited.
  • Most older adults have had their money or property stolen or used improperly at some point.
  • Roughly 80 percent of those interviewed had money or property stolen or misused over the past year.
  • Victims’ children were responsible for the financial abuse about 60 percent of the time, with neighbors and friends being responsible 17 percent of the time and paid home aides 15 percent of the time.
  • Often, victims were living in large households without their spouse.
  • Those needing the most help maintaining their independence were particularly at risk for financial abuse.

 

There are many ways the elderly can be financially exploited. In some cases, older people were forced or tricked into giving up their rights or property; others were forced or misled into signing or making changed to a legal document. This financial abuse of older Americans can have negative consequences that extend beyond an individual case.

“In addition to robbing older adults of resources, dignity and quality of life, it is likely costing our society dearly in the form of entitlement encumbrances, health care and other costs,” said Janey Peterson of Weill Cornell Medical College in a journal news release.

Since financial exploitation and abuse is the most common form of elder abuse, these disturbing figures need to serve as a wake up call for doctors, policy makers and caregivers, the study concluded. 


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