7 signs of financial elder abuse

Everyone has a role to play in identifying and preventing financial elder abuse. The following are signs to watch for, that it could be happening to an older person you know.

Here are 7 signs of financial elder abuse to look for

#1: The person tells you someone is taking advantage of them

If someone tells you they are being abused, pressured or coerced, it is best to believe them, take their claims seriously, ask questions and offer support.

#2: They are having trouble paying their bills

Despite a history of being financially responsible, bills are not being paid on time. You may notice unpaid bills piling up, collection notices or unopened mail accumulating.

#3: They are no longer buying things they need, like clothes, personal hygiene products, groceries or medications

You notice a decline in their standard of living that is not in keeping with their income or usual habits.

#4: Sudden or large amounts of cash are being withdrawn from their accounts

Unusual changes to a person’s financial behavior, especially cash withdrawals or transfers of money are occurring. This is particularly questionable if they do not appear to be spending this money on themselves.

#5: Unexplained disappearances of their possessions, jewelry or art

Precious and valuable items appear to be missing from their homes. This could be a result of theft, pawning or pressured gifting.

#6: Surprising changes to their living arrangements

This can include someone unexpectedly moving in with them (potentially rent-free) or the sudden sale of the person’s home.

#7: Misuse of Power of Attorney (PoA)

The PoA makes decisions or takes actions, which are not in the best interests of the older adult. Examples of abuse include theft or misuse of funds or going against the older adult’s wishes.

Additional resources

Visit the Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (CNPEA) and Elder Abuse Ontario (EAO) for more resources and tips. You may also wish to contact local law enforcement agencies (police) for further guidance.

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