What is elder financial abuse?

As we get older the risk of financial abuse increases, especially after the loss of a loved one when our dependence on others often becomes greater. Assistance can be required to perform daily activities like shopping and paying bills. Sometimes, people in a position of trust or authority can use it forcefully for personal financial gain.

Financial abuse may coincide with physical, sexual and mental abuse or neglect. Proving financial abuse can be difficult. Being diligent and aware of your financial situation always will help to prevent or mitigate potential financial abuse.

It can be a child, carer, relative, Power of Attorney, professional with privileges or trusted individual who may:

  • make transfers to their own personal account
  • make charges to the elder’s credit card or accounts without permission
  • demand monetary loans or gifts
  • forcefully have them sign a new Will or appoint them as the Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney
  • threaten neglect if the elder doesn’t do what they want.

Signs of elder financial abuse:

  • unauthorised (without consent) transactions, withdrawals or transfers from accounts and charges to credit cards
  • forcing or manipulating someone to change a Will, Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney
  • a Power of Attorney isn’t following directions or acting with the best interests of the person that they have been appointed to care for forged signatures on cheques, bank accounts or legal documents
  • bills and outgoings haven’t been paid, despite assigning the responsibility to a trusted person. Mail, in particular – bank statements, don’t arrive in the post when they should
  • feeling of isolation from family and friends or threat of isolation if the perpetrator doesn’t receive (usually financially) what they want assets, property or possessions are being taken without permission or stolen
  • being made to feel guilty if money isn’t given or requests aren’t followed financial support or assistance.

More information & support.

If you are concerned about the care you are receiving, contact these organisations:

  • The Elder Abuse Response Service helpline – 0800 32 668 65 (0800 EA NOT OK)
  • Age Concern – 0800 65 2 105 Super Seniors
  • The manager of the home care service
  • The New Zealand Home Health Association Inc phone 04 472 3196
  • Health and Disability Commissioner phone 0800 11 22 33
  • Advocacy Services, Health and Disability phone 0800 555 050
  • The funding agency e.g. District Health Board or ACC case manager.