Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones From Elder Financial Abuse

One in six older Australians experience elder abuse to some degree each year, with financial abuse one of the most common type of abuse reported.1

How to protect yourself or your ageing relatives

Financial abuse can take many forms, from scams and fraud to emotional blackmail and theft – and it can be committed by strangers, friends or even family members.

Elderly people are particularly vulnerable to this kind of mistreatment and the impacts can extend beyond financial loss. For example, it can cause anxiety and depression, or prevent access to food, medical care and safety.

As our population ages, the risk is increasing for more people. This means it could be happening right now to you or someone you love. Because it can be hard to spot financial abuse, it’s worth taking some time to understand the risks before it’s too late.

Who is at risk?

People are more at risk of being a target of elder financial abuse if they:

  • are alone or isolated
  • have a physical or mental disability
  • have a limited understanding of finance
  • experience language limitations or cultural barriers
  • are part of the LGBTI community
  • are reliant on others for their care
  • have been subject to other types of abuse in the past.

Types of elder financial abuse

What to look for:

  • Threats and intimidation – Physically or emotionally pressuring an elderly person to sign over their        assets
  • Fraud and scams – Falsely gaining an elderly person’s trust in order to steal their money
  • Abusing family agreements – Entering into an informal agreement that has no legal backing
  • Improper use of funds – Using an older person’s money for purposes that weren’t agreed upon
  • Abusing power of attorney – The person with “Power of Attorney” uses this power to take the older person’s assets
  • Inheritance impatience – Taking assets from an ageing relative while they are still alive -for example, stealing money
  • Guarantors gone wrong – Older parents acting a guarantor to children’s loan may lose their home
  • Failure to provide care – When an arrangement to provide care for older relatives breaks down
  • Emotional blackmail – Demanding money in exchange for specific favours – such as access to grandkids
  • Theft – Thieves can exploit an older person’s physical or mental vulnerabilities

Want More Information

If you’d like more information on how to protect yourself or an elderly relative from financial elder abuse, you can call us at Jigsaw Private Wealth on 03  9351 6521.  

1. Australian Institute of Family Studies, National Elder Abuse Prevalence Study: Final Report, July 2021

CREDIT: This article was originally written for Colonial First State

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