Guest Post: Elder Financial Abuse

At Proactive Seniors we are dedicated to sharing great information! This blog is one way for us to share information that may be of interest, which is why you will see guest posts such as this one from industry experts.

Seniors represent some of the most vulnerable members of our population, and because of this, sadly, they are often targeted victims of abuse. While we are all too familiar with upsetting stories of physical abuse, financial abuse is another common form of elder abuse. 

Covid-19 in particular, has created greater periods of isolation for our seniors. Close friends and family need to know what the warning signs of potential elder financial abuse can look like and what can be done if you suspect it’s happening to a loved one. One in five Canadians believe they know a senior who might be experiencing some sort of abuse. 

Top five common signs of financial abuse of seniors to watch for: 

  1. Missing valuables. It is possible your loved one may have just misplaced something of value, but it is also possible that it was taken from them. This is one of the most common signs of elder abuse and may be brought up by the elderly person him/herself. If you notice that your loved one’s belongings are missing, ask them about it. 
  2. A decline in their standard of living.  Checking in on loved ones during COVID-19 has been more difficult than ever before with restrictions and lockdowns still in place at many care facilities. If an elderly loved one is neglecting self-care or having difficulty meeting their basic needs, this may be a sign of abuse. If they are declining phone calls or, as restrictions permit, visits, check into their situation as soon as possible to assess if abuse, financial or otherwise, is taking place. 
  3. Unusual banking activity or credit card charges. We all tend to follow typical banking patterns, especially as we age and are managing a more structured budget. If an elderly loved one that you care for has unexplained withdrawals, strange credit card activity, or new third-party payments, they could very well be victims of elder financial abuse. It is worth looking into.  
  4. Unexplained changes to a will, power of attorney or property ownership. Any changes of this nature are potentially big red flags and should be addressed immediately. Especially if key family members were not consulted or if major changes have taken place. 
  5. Sudden new companion, friend, or romantic interest. While a new relationship can be a wonderful thing in the life of an elderly person, it can also be an area of concern. This can be a difficult sign to spot and actions need to be taken with caution.  

If you are concerned about a new relationship in the life of an elderly loved one, watch how they handle themselves around the new person. Look for signs of monetary transfers to a new romantic interest or signs of discomfort in the presence of a new financial advisor. 

Taking care of our seniors is an important role. If you suspect that an elderly person is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1 and report your concerns. You can also learn more about the signs of senior financial abuse here and/or download this brochure titled “What every older Canadian should know about: Financial abuse”. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing overwhelming debt, Bromwich+Smith can help you take back control. Reach out to any one of our Debt Relief Specialists for a free, personalized, no obligation consultation at 1.855.884.9243 or contact us here

 By Taz Rajan Community Engagement Partner at Bromwich+Smith

Taz has been in the finance industry for nearly two decades and has always been passionate about education and empowerment.  Having declared bankruptcy herself, she intimately understands the shame, stigma surrounding matters of debt as well as the joy and relief that comes from restructuring. Taz actively works to normalize the conversation of debt through blogs, media interviews, webinars, lunch & learns and through building relationships.