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Your Financial Life

World Elder Abuse Awareness

5 minute read time

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) is recognized on June 15. The purpose of WEAAD is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic impacts.

Abuse can happen to anyone — no matter the person's age, sex, race, religion, ethnic or cultural background. Each year, hundreds of thousands of adults in the US, over the age of 60 are abused, neglected, or financially exploited. The mistreatment of older adults may be done by family members, strangers, health care providers, caregivers or friends. According to the National Institute on Aging, abuse can take on many forms such as physical, emotional, neglect, abandonment, sexual and financial.

What to Watch For

Signs of physical or emotional abuse may include:

  • Seems depressed, confused or withdrawn
  • Isolated from friends and family
  • Has unexplained bruises, burns or scars
  • Appears dirty, underfed, dehydrated, over or under medicated, or may not be receiving needed care for medical issues

Signs of possible financial abuse may include:

  • Unexplained account withdrawals
  • Another individual unexpectedly making financial decisions on the older person’s behalf
  • Disappearance of funds or valuable possessions
  • Unanticipated transfer of assets to another individual
  • Sudden changes to a will or other important financial documents
  • Suspicious signatures on checks

How You Can Help

If you think someone you know is being abused — physically, emotionally or financially — talk with the individual when the two of you are alone. Offer to get help at a local adult protective services agency or local law enforcement agency. There are many local, state and national social service agencies providing help with emotional, legal or financial abuse.

The Administration for Community Living has a National Center on Elder Abuse where you can learn about how to report abuse, where to get help, and state laws that deal with abuse and neglect. Or, call the Eldercare Locator weekdays at 800.677.1116.

Tips To Protect Finances

Protecting your money and assets can be done by talking to someone at your financial institution, an attorney, or a financial advisor to ensure your wishes for managing your money and property are followed in the event you become incapacitated.

Other ways older adults can protect themselves, include:

  • Carefully choosing a trustworthy person to share your financial planning matters with so they can assist you with tracking your finances if you are unable to do so yourself.
  • Keep your checkbook, account statements, and other sensitive information in a safe place where others can’t access.
  • Order copies of your credit report to review and check for suspicious activity.
  • Never provide personal information, including account numbers, social security number, user ID or password, PINs, or one-time pass code to anyone over the phone, text or email, unless you initiated the request. Remember, your bank will never ask for this information.
  • Ask for details in writing and get a second opinion from a financial advisor or attorney before signing any document you don’t understand.
  • Pay with checks and credit cards instead of cash to have records of transactions.

Additional Resources

Review these additional resources to identify or report elder abuse.

AARP Fraud Watch Network

Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker

Consumer Financial Protection Board: Money Smarts for Older Adults Resource Guide

Federal Trade Commission: Report Fraud National Adult Protective Services

National Institute on Aging

National Adult Protective Services Association