American seniors are at risk for many different types of abuse, but financial exploitation is often especially devastating. The National Council on Aging reports that isolation and mental decline can make seniors vulnerable to this type of problem and that in some cases, their family members are behind the abuse. 

Financial exploitation is not always to spot; however, understanding the signs may help you identify and put a stop to it. 

Common red flags  

Financial abuse of the elderly can come in many forms, including the unauthorized control of a senior’s bank accounts and the spending of money from those accounts. There are several red flags you can look for: 

  • A new individual in the senior’s life (a caregiver, neighbor or friend)  
  • Sudden changes in banking habits  
  • Changes in the senior’s behavior regarding the discussion of finances  

If any of these instances suddenly change and the senior’s odd behavior escalates, you may want to look into his or her finances to ensure they appear as they should. 

Speaking to the senior  

In some cases, the exploited elder may feel embarrassed or ashamed about the situation and may not reveal that it is happening until their finances are almost drained. If you suspect exploitation, you may want to speak to your loved one right away and reassure him or her that the one stealing or manipulating is the one at fault. 

Taking action  

The individual exploiting your elderly loved one may have forged checks or other important documents to gain access to the money. Contacting the authorities with this evidence is usually the best way to begin legal action against this person. 

Financial exploitation is common but rarely reported. While the elder may feel he or she has to hide the issue, facing it may prevent future abuse.