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    Long Term Care BooksFind books provided by the National Care Planning Council written to help the public plan for Long Term Care. Learn More...

Eldercare Articles

    Eldercare ArticlesThe NCPC publishes periodic articles under the title "Planning for Eldercare". Each article is written to help families recognize the need for long term care planning and to help implement that planning. All elderly people, regardless of current health, should have a long term care plan. Learn More...

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Guide to LTC Planning

    Guide to Long Term Care PlanningFrom its inception, the goal of the National Care Planning Council has been to educate the public on the importance of planning for long term care. With that goal in mind, we have created the largest and most comprehensive source of long term care planning material available anywhere. This material -- "Guide to Long Term Care Planning" -- is free to the public for downloading and printing on all of our web sites. Learn More...

The Hidden Secret of Elder Abuse

Elderly Abuse

Roughly 35% of the 25 million persons in the U.S. at age 71 or above have mild cognitive impairment or dementia, according to a Duke University study. Mental impairment sometimes leads to financial abuse. Financial abuse of these elderly persons who are impaired in their decision-making can take several paths. One of these paths is confusion or uncertainty among seniors about handling their own financial affairs and because of this elderly people are often preyed upon by unscrupulous individuals trying to take away their money. Researchers at the University of Iowa have found that changes to the aging brain may make many older people less risk averse, thereby making them more susceptible to risky schemes. Because of this deficiency in thinking and to act on something that sounds too good to be true, many seniors are too trusting with their money with strangers.

It is not uncommon to hear on the news, almost weekly, about some sort of phone scam, mail scam or email scam that has taken advantage of some elderly person. The nonprofit Investor Protection Trust finds that 20% of Americans over age 65, or 7.3 million people, have been victims of financial swindles. States are eager to pass laws to prevent abuse and to prosecute wrongdoers, but it is impossible to control the sheer volume of these people taking advantage of the elderly.

Financial abuse also occurs between seniors and those people whom the seniors either rely on for their support or whom the seniors trust.

Financial abuse from family members is one of the dirty little secrets of eldercare. By some estimates, approximately 20% of all seniors are suffering abuse either in the form of physical abuse, self-neglect or financial abuse. It is also estimated that the bulk of this abuse occurs at the hands of family caregivers – those family members who are entrusted with the care of their loved ones. Much of this family abuse has to do with stealing or manipulating the money from the loved one being cared for.

This can occur through outright fraud or theft, or it can occur by using the legal arrangements described in other articles from our website that take advantage of the person being cared for. We have heard of numerous cases where a son or daughter has a power of attorney or a guardianship and has literally stripped their parents or parent of all assets and income. Some very egregious cases have come to light nationally where people being cared for are totally neglected and literally starved and eventually died from malnutrition and disease because this abuse was hidden from view. In return, the caregivers were enjoying the income and cleaning out the assets of those they were supposed to be caring for.

Individuals receiving care from members of the family or from trusted friends or other relatives, are often extremely reluctant to report financial abuse. Essentially, they rely on their caregivers for their day-to-day needs. If they report the abuse, they may lose the caregiver. In addition, caregivers often threaten those persons they are watching over. The typical threat is one where the person receiving care will be thrown out into the street or put into a nursing home if the person being cared for reports the abuse to authorities.

Some financial advisers are also guilty of taking advantage of their clients. These unscrupulous financial advisors will build a relationship of trust with their elderly clients and then talk them into investments that are not suitable for those clients. These unethical financial advisors are primarily focused on generating the highest commission possible regardless of the outcome for their clients.

Practitioners assisting seniors with their finances should not be guilty of such actions. On the contrary, these practitioners should be on the lookout for any signs of elder financial abuse that might be evident. Here are some telltale signs.

  • the caregiver is reluctant to share any financial information
  • the person receiving care seems confused or frightened
  • the existence of a durable power of attorney or guardianship might raise a red flag

Abuse of the elderly in all forms is wrong.