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Study: Elder Financial Abuse Affects Caregivers As Well

by John Gomez | Last Updated: March 27, 2017
Financial Abuse

The San Diego elder abuse lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys have been working to raise awareness with regards to elder financial abuse for years.  We have described common scams that are used to defraud older people.  We have provided information regarding how people can check on their older loved ones to make sure that they are safe.  This effort towards awareness is necessary because the problem of elder financial abuse is getting worse every year.  One group that has studied this problem regularly recently updated one of its analyses from last year, and that update uncovered more troubling facts.  It seems that caregivers are also in harm’s way when it comes to elder financial abuse.  Hopefully, a heightened level of knowledge with regards to this situation will lead to quicker identification of something that’s wrong and more people will be able to avoid the fallout from these terrible acts.

About the Updated Elder Financial Abuse Study

Allianz Life Insurance completed the study.  The researchers surveyed 1,000 panel respondents who were either actively providing care for a non-spouse who was at least 65 years old or could be in a position to do so within the next five years.  The respondents were between the ages of 18 and 64.  The original study was published in 2014 and a subsequent version was released in 2016.  This most recent update provides additional data to the 2016 release.  The study itself is entitled, “The 2016 Safeguarding Our Seniors Study” and those who would like to review the highlights of it can find it here.

According to the most recently updated study:

  • Nearly 90 percent of respondents said that they also experienced a financial impact as a result of the elder they were caring for being financially abused.
  • The average loss to the victims of elder financial abuse was $36,000.
  • Caregivers also lost an average of $36,000 when their elder was targeted for financial abuse.
  • Caregivers whose elder had been abused spent an average of $8,400 per year caring for their elders.
  • This represented a level that was 56 percent higher than caregivers whose elders had not been financially abused.
  • Nearly 80 percent of caregivers whose elder had been financially abused expressed concern about their own current finances and their retirement savings

Clearly, elder financial abuse affects more people than just the targets of the scams or other acts.

The Elder Financial Abuse Study: How Caregivers Can Be Harmed

A look at who caregivers tend to be could help explain how the vast majority of them are harmed when the elder they care for is a target for elder financial abuse.  According to the Caregiver Action Network, the following statistics relate to caregivers in the United States:

  • More than 65 million people in the United States care for an ill, disabled or aged family member or friend.
  • These caregivers spend an average of 20 hours per week providing this care.
  • 13 percent of caregivers spend 40 hours per week or more providing care for their friend or loved one.
  • Nearly two-thirds of caregivers in the United States are women.
  • More than 37 percent of caregivers have minor children or grandchildren living with them.
  • Nearly half of all American caregivers indicate that increased expenses have forced them to use all or most of their savings.

Given these statistics, there are some conclusions that can be drawn with regards to the issue of elder financial abuse:

  1. Many caregivers of elders are family members.  As such, their finances are at least indirectly tied to the loved ones for whom they are providing care.
  2. Caregivers are not wealthy.  Therefore, when their older loved one suffers a large financial loss, it will impact everyone who is depending on that income or those assets.
  3. Losses tend to spread.  When one person loses a large sum of money, these losses do not in themselves eliminate expenses.  The burden of those expenses tends to spread to others.
  4. This is a problem that is extremely widespread in nature given the number of caregivers in the United States and the collective aging of the population.

Elder Financial Abuse Statistics

The more we learn about elder financial abuse, the more mysteries we seem to uncover.  One of those involves the statistics relating to elder financial abuse.  One of the first studies that received a lot of attention was put out by MetLife in 2011.  That study concluded that approximately $2.9 billion was lost because of elder financial fraud during the previous year, up from $2.6 billion in 2008.  That is a very low estimate compared to other studies.

TrueLink published a study in 2015 that estimated the economic losses due to elder financial abuse at more than $36 billion, or $3 billion per month.  Those losses broke down as follows:

  • $17 billion was lost due to exploitation.  Exploitation includes groups or individuals using pressure tactics to prompt seniors into making financial mistakes.
  • $12.8 billion was lost due to fraud including such crimes as identity theft.
  • Seniors lost $6.7 billion because of family members, friends or others taking advantage of the trusting senior.

How Elder Abuse Lawyers Can Help

We know much more about elder financial abuse now than we did 15 or 20 years ago.  We are beginning to understand the nature and true scope of this problem.  Anyone with older relatives needs to do what they can to communicate with them regarding this issue.  This may not be comfortable for everyone but it is necessary.  Our older relatives deserve our protection and our support.  Anyone who does suspect that something is wrong needs to do something about it as soon as possible, as that could make the difference between ending an ongoing course of abuse or unknowingly allowing it to continue, furthering the losses and other forms of harm.

If you believe that a loved one is being exploited financially, you should seek the help of San Diego elder abuse lawyers who have been standing up for the rights of clients for more than a decade.  Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys as soon as possible for a free case evaluation.

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