Financial Abuse of an Older Parent

Financial abuse is real and not uncommon. You have likely heard of or know a senior who has been scammed.


It is even worse when done by a member of the family. The elderly are frequently victims of financial exploitation.  They are more often alone, or lonely and appreciative of attention. Because of cognitive impairment like dementia elders are an easier target.

According to the National Council on Aging, one in ten American seniors, (sixty plus) has experienced some type of elder abuse. A significant number of these are done by a member of the family.

Red Flags of Exploitation

~ The Senior or a family member becomes secretive regarding finances.

~Important changes to Estate Plans skewed to a particular son or daughter.

~That adult child is always present when others visit, or that child controls visits.

~Sudden move or relocation of a parent without discussion or knowledge by other family members. Moves should be planned for and not done in secret.

~A son or daughter starts isolating the parent from friends, activates or other family.

~The son or daughter has a gambling, alcohol or substance abuse problem.  This is especially true of the adult child with special influence over the parent or the parent has cognitive issues.

~Unexplained financial losses, missing financial information, lowered bank accounts, sudden or multiple “loans” to the same family member.

~A family member with financial difficulties moves in with your parent.

Precautions to Take

We don’t like to think about anyone taking advantage of our parents but it is a reality of the world we live in. So when a sibling or other family member is exploiting our parents it affects the entire family.

Discuss concerns with them and their financial professionals.

Suggest camera monitoring

Limiting credit card limits

Routine Bookeeper appointments to review the books

Adding names to accounts

Suggestions made by their financial advisors, bankers, and accountant.

Using an aide for companionship or in-home care gives an added benefit because another person is in the home watching out for them. A caregiver can sound an alarm if he or she suspects financial abuse. There are stories about abuse by aides and by family so it is important to know who is in the home. The above safeguards apply to hired help also.