The dim economic climate is having a disturbing trickle-down effect on families: Financial abuse of the elderly.
A two-year Australian study found that 5% of elderly people had been victims of financial abuse, with women over age 65 at the greatest risk. The problem seems to begin when children or grandchildren run into their own financial difficulties, which is not unusual in the world’s current state of low employment. They persuade the older family member to sell a home. According to an article in the Melbourne Weekly:
“Sometimes it’s sons and daughters or grandchildren. They want to get their inheritance now,’’ said Dr Jo Wainer [Eastern Health Research Officer]. ‘‘The children say, ‘Look mum, do you want to come and stay with us? In return, you sell your home, we’ll pay off the mortgage at my place.’ But often the child will end up relinquishing their parents into care, and the elderly person is left with nothing but a pension.’’
Another way elderly people can get taken is through Internet banking and bill pay: They trust a family member to use the Internet for them, give them access to bank accounts and passwords, and get cleaned out.
It’s a very sad reality. Desperate times make for desperate people, but it is difficult for anyone to imagine that a beloved son or granddaughter could wipe out a lifetime of savings. It happens.
If you have an elderly loved one, make it a point to check on his or her financial health the same way you would check on physical health. Ask questions, and offer your services as a reliable advisor. Be the protector in these difficult times.
To read the full article in the Melbourne Weekly, click here: Abuse of elderly on the rise