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Financial Elder Abuse

Posted 4 years 352 days ago ago by Danielle Streed

When it comes to protecting your family members from elder abuse, you may have to rely on your own efforts to protect an aging parent. Unfortunately, the State of Michigan has not passed any laws protecting seniors from being influenced by a care giver.  The State of Illinois and the State of California have laws restricting gifts to care givers.   Studies show that seniors who are  60 years and older are susceptible to financial and material exploitation. This means that they are at risk of being taken advantage of by  1) people that are caring for them; 2) neighbors who are overly friendly;  and 3)  new friends.  (I have clients that think their veterinarian, pharmacist and house cleaner are their best friends).  Many of these seniors are isolated and do not have a lot of contact with others and welcome the attention these new friends or care givers provide. If the aging family member does not have local family to help with their care or finances, many times a care giver is hired. These care givers spend a significant amount of time with this family member and can be viewed as a “friend”.

There are signs to look for to determine whether or not a family member of yours is subject to elder abuse. Such warning signs include

1. Changes in the elderly person’s typical spending patterns
2. Transferring assets to a new friend that is assisting with their finances
3. Excessive reimbursements to care givers or friends 
4. Newly authorized signers on an elderly person's bank account
5 Unexplained changes in the elder law attorney
6. Unfamiliar signatures on checks and other documents
7. Missing property and unexplained disappearance of valuables, cash, medications or other personal items
8. Large or unexplained withdrawals from the family member’s account

Obviously you want to make sure that background checks are done on any care givers you hire.  However, despite the fact that many care givers come via a reputable company, human  nature/greed can take over and the prospect of risking your job in exchange for the possibility of inheriting a large sum of money or someone’s house is worth the risk for many.

I have seen many situations where an elderly family member, who is suffering from dementia or mental infirmity, is confused about who their friends or family really are. I have seen elderly parents get upset with children for the simple fact that they don’t see them often and they become strangers. The aging paren starts to trust the care giver they see daily and question the motives of a child or family member they may not see for months at a time.  It is easy for the aging family member to put their faith and trust in the care giver because of the consistency of the times they are together.  Steps need to be taken to protect your parent’s finances early on and a system needs to be addressed or set up to make sure that  accounts are monitored.  If you think that elder abuse is going on in the family, there are several websites that you can go to for assistance.

National Center on Elder Abuse ( to Stop Abuse
Adult Protective Services (these are local agencies within your community/county)
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Financial Protection for Older Americans (

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