According to Fred Joseph, president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, “Elder financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century’’. He was quoted in a Washington Post article that focused on the link between the growing recession in the U.S. and the increase in elder financial abuse. Though there may be debate about if elder financial abuse is the ‘crime of the century’, there is no doubt that it is a burgeoning crisis in the U.S. This video from the California Attorney General’s Office is a good introduction to the issue – and how to help prevent elder financial abuse.
As we’ve written about, WITNESS and the National Council on Aging have partnered to address a silent crisis in America: elder abuse. This summer and fall, dozens of video stories and testimonies about elder abuse, some from the estimated annual five million victims of elder abuse, are being gathered and shared to help break the silence and pass the Elder Justice Act, pending legislation that will provide holistic support to help detect, prosecute and prevent elder abuse.
Elder abuse can take many forms (which you can learn more about here and here), one of which is the financial abuse of seniors – the illegal or improper use of an elder’s funds, property or assets. Examples range from the financial abuse my colleague Kelly’s grandmother endured when she was swindled by a door-to-door salesman (read thief) to a family member signing checks from their elder’s account without permission.
Though underreported, the annual loss is estimated to be at least $2.6 billion, according to a recent report (pdf) from MetLife Mature Market Institute, produced in conjunction with the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and Virginia Tech University. It goes on to state that the typical victim of elder abuse is a woman over 75 who lives alone and the “increased aging population, social changes, and technology advances will lead to a dramatic increase in the opportunity for a growing level of elder abuse”.
Groups around the country are working to highlight the urgency of elder financial abuse – particularly during these tough economic times – and helping to provide services to victims and their families. Below, please find a few resources that may be of assistance.
The Elder Financial Protection Network works to prevent financial abuse and has a section on elder financial abuse and a great petition to help pass the Elder Justice Act – add your signature!
Learn More About Elder Abuse
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