Elder abuse can manifest as physical harm, emotional harm, or financial exploitation (known as "elder financial abuse").
Sadly, an elder is most often abused by someone he or she knows. It is crucial for loved ones to be familiar with who the elder has in their life.
Elder abuse can occur through different means:
- Without the elders consent
- By tricking or intimidating
- By coercing, exerting undue influence
- By exploiting the elder’s cognitive impairment
In Oregon, over 40% of substantiated elder abuse claims stem from financial exploitation. Each year more than 20,000 calls are placed to report elder abuse and that number is expected to increase.
Common Risk Factors
While many of our aging loved ones are vulnerable to elder abuse, certain factors increase an older individual’s risk of being exploited. For instance, the level of dependency the elder has on care providers or care services will increase the likelihood that the elder may be exploited. Failing health or cognition may increase an individual’s vulnerability. Confusion is often a factor in how abusers manipulate the elder.
Additionally, loneliness can often contribute to an elder being willing to listen to what an abuser is telling them and leaves the elder isolated from those who would otherwise be able to help them.
Six Signs of Elder Abuse & Financial Exploitation
Abuse can be physical injury, neglect, abandonment, verbal or emotional abuse, sexual, wrongful restraint, or financial exploitation. The following six signs are indicators that someone may be financially exploiting your loved one:
- Your loved one is accompanied to the bank by someone that was not previously involved in their life.
- The individual speaks on behalf of your loved one, regardless of the fact that your loved one is present.
- Your loved one's independence became limited in a relatively short period of time.
- Your loved one appears fearful.
- Your loved one is easily confused and cannot give plausible explanations for financial transactions they made.
- Your loved one appears neglected and is in danger of losing a secure living situation.
Often, financial exploitation goes hand-in-hand with other types of abuse and neglect. If you believe an older person is being financially exploited, then he or she may also be suffering an additional form of abuse or neglect.
How to Report Abuse
To report abuse of an older adult or individual with disabilities, contact your local Adult Protective Services office or contact the state DHS office at (800) 232-3020 or (503) 945-9495.