Elder financial exploitation is a crime that has been called the “Crime of the 21st Century.” The Area Agency on Aging District 7 (AAA7) and its Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program encourages the public to understand more about this issue and learn how to take steps to prevent financial exploitation.
Financial exploitation is the illegal use of the money or property of a senior or disabled adult for another person’s profit. It occurs when a senior or disabled adult is tricked, persuaded or forced into handing over money or property to a son, daughter, other relative, professional caregiver, or a stranger. Unfortunately, it happens more often than you may think. A recent study found that financial abuse is reported in only one of every 44 cases. This means that criminal exploitation goes undetected and unaddressed in 43 of every 44 instances.
Financial exploitation can occur anywhere – in the home, in nursing homes, or other long‐term care settings, and anyone can be a victim. It crosses all socio‐economic groups, cultures, and races. Statistically, women and “older” adults are most likely to be victimized. Dementia is a significant risk factor. Mental health and substance abuse issues – of both abusers and victims – are strong risk factors. Social isolation can also contribute to risk.
Our national association, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), has a very informative brochure on their website entitled “Answers on Aging – Financial Exploitation – Safeguarding Your Money and Property.” Included in the brochure is valuable information including the signs, risk factors, and a helpful checklist to help you avoid financial exploitation. You can view this brochure at www.n4a.org and click on “n4a Initiatives” and then “Answers on Aging: Financial Exploitation.” Or, call our agency for more information.
The AAA7’s Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Department is also available to speak to community groups about financial exploitation. For more information, call us at 1-800-582-7277.
To learn more about long-term care resources in your community, call our agency at 1-800-582-7277. We can even schedule an in-home assessment at no cost to discuss resources further. The AAA7 covers 10 counties in Ohio including Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton.
Pamela K. Matura is the executive director of the Area Agency on Aging District 7.