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The Familiar Face of Elder Abuse

In recent years, the word “elder abuse” has entered both the public and legal lexicon. For many people, the word invokes images of mean-spirited nursing home staff, greedy neighbors, or predatory financial planners. Sadly, however, many perpetrators of abuse are close family members to an elder.

The January 2013 issue of Consumer Reports magazine ran an article about financial elder abuse which contains a wealth of information about the subject. The article lists numerous factual scenarios which may be warning signs of elder abuse and offers suggestions to prevent and combat elder abuse. The article may be viewed online at:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/financial0113.htm.

Some of the “highlights” of the article are:

1. Insist on a national background check before hiring caregivers, and do not solely rely on the representations of a care agency.

2. Even if you require or want someone to assist you in managing your finances, you can set limits on the scope of that’s person’s authority.

3. Set up automated bill paying for recurring expenses on your accounts.

4. Increased socialization decreases the risk of elder abuse.

The last point is especially important. Often, an elder is most susceptible to financial abuse when the abuser is the only person who regularly interacts with the elder. The elder becomes dependent on that person for virtually everything, and may believe he or she must tolerate the abuse to survive. This is another good reason for family and friends to visit their elderly loved-ones frequently.

Loren Barr
by Loren Barr
Updated: April 28, 2021

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