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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Friday, March 24, 2017

Senior Financial Abuse Costs are Up with No End in Sight

We have written here many times about financial elder abuse focusing on both the emotional and financial implications. Unfortunately, financial elder abuse is not abating. In fact, it is growing.

In only the last two years financial elder abuse in the United States has grown by 20 percent, according to the recently published 2016 Safeguarding Our Seniors Study from Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America.

The findings of the study show that the average cost per victim of elder financial abuse has risen from $30,000 in 2014 to $36,000. More than half of those participating in the study indicated the financial impact of the abuse could be categorized as a “major loss” or “financial ruin.”

A full 37 percent of caregivers indicated that the older person they care for has experienced financial abuse or exploitation with a loss.

Even more alarming is that Allianz’s survey connected cognitive decline with the occurrence and severity of abuse. Incidence of elder financial abuse was 10 percentage points greater among caregivers whose charge had experienced some level of mental decline – 34 percent of respondents caring for an elder with cognitive decline reported witnessing some level of financial abuse, versus 24 percent of those whose charge had no mental decline.

There is an emotional toll for elders who are victims of financial abuse. Caregivers in the study said when financial abuse occurred, the person they cared for reacted with anger, depression, anxiety and/or guilt. Many victims chose to isolate themselves from their peers, and those with cognitive decline were significantly more likely to isolate themselves.

Elder financial abuse also has a financial impact on caregivers. More than 90 percent of the caregivers surveyed said they suffered a significant financial impact from the abuse, as well.

Even more troubling is that victims of financial elder abuse experience it repeatedly. But unfortunately one third of the caregivers in the survey said they expected their seniors would not report the abuse due to embarrassment, lack of awareness, or not knowing who to tell.


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