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Recognize the signs of potential financial abuse

One issue that many elders deal with is financial abuse. Financial abuse generally takes place when their caregiver or those around them control their finances, steal or otherwise negatively affect their financial situation. When one person controls another person’s money and withholds it from them, then that may constitute abuse.

Financial elder abuse is certainly unacceptable, but it does happen regularly. Financial exploitation is particularly common when aging adults suffer from conditions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Those elders are highly vulnerable, and it’s easier to take advantage of them.

Who commits financial abuse against elders?

Nearly anyone can commit financial abuse against the elderly, but the most common parties include:

  • Close friends
  • Acquaintances
  • Family members
  • Nurses or aides who work with the patient regularly
  • In-home care providers

The National Center on Elderly Abuse states that elder financial or material exploitation occurs when the elder’s funds are improperly or illegally used. Some signs of this could include:

  • If there are sudden changes in bank account balances
  • If there are unusual or unauthorized withdrawals on the elder’s account
  • Transfers of assets to others unexpectedly
  • Sudden changes in a will or in other financial documents

What should you do if you think your loved one is being taken advantage of?

If you have access to their accounts, keep a close eye on the incoming and outgoing funds. If you start to notice unusual transactions, start taking action. Track down who made them and where those charges are coming from, so you can dispute them through the bank or with the creditor. You may also want to take the case to an attorney to get help with pursuing legal action.


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