Elder financial abuse is a type of elder abuse in which misappropriation of financial resources or abusive use of financial control, in the context of a relationship where there is an expectation of trust, causes harm to an older person.
The Older Americans Act of 2006 defines elder financial abuse, or financial exploitation, as “the fraudulent or otherwise illegal, unauthorized, or improper act or process of an individual, including a caregiver or fiduciary, that uses the resources of an older individual for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain, or that results in depriving an older individual of rightful access to, or use of, benefits, resources, belongings, or assets.
By family or caregivers.
Family members and informal or paid caregivers have special access to seniors and thus are often in a position inflict financial abuse through deception, coercion, misrepresentation, undue influence, or theft. Common abusive practices include:
Money or property is used without the senior’s permission or taken from them, for example removal from their home and then use of the home by the abuser, or depositing income such as pension or benefit checks
The senior’s signature is forged or identity is misappropriated for financial transactions
The senior is coerced or influenced to sign over deeds or wills, or caused to execute legal documents they do not understand
The abuser fraudulently obtains a power of attorney or guardianship
Money is borrowed from the senior and never repaid
Family members engaged in financial abuse of the elderly may include spouses, children, or grandchildren. They may engage in the activity because they feel justified, for instance, they are taking what they might later inherit or have a sense of “entitlement” due to a negative personal relationship with the older person, or that it is somehow the price of a promise of lifelong care. Or they may take money or property to prevent other family members from getting the money or for fear that their inheritance may be lost due to cost of treating illnesses. Sometimes, family members take money or property from their elders because of gambling or other financial problems or substance abuse.
Hybrid financial exploitation.
Hybrid Financial Exploitation (HFE) is financial exploitation that co-occurs with physical abuse and/or neglect. HFE victims are more likely to be co-habiting with abusive individual, to have fair/poor health, to fear the abusive individual, to perceive abusive individual as caretaker, and to have a longer duration of abuse.