NAPSA’s Potential Indicators

Financial abuse of older adults is a growing problem that can take many forms, as seen here.  Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to detect.  This makes it all the more important to be aware of the warning signs of financial exploitation.

Common Red Flags
  • Victim relies on others for basic activities of daily living
  • Isolation from resources or contacts
  • Unexplained debt
  • Discomfort with the handling of the finances
  • Uneasiness with decisions made by the power of attorney or health care proxies
  • Piled-up mail
  • Unpaid bills
  • Termination of essential utilities
  • Lack of food in the home
  • Caregiver with a history of substance abuse or mental illness
  • Liabilities despite sufficient income
  • Transfer of assets to new “friends”
  • Checks are written to “cash”
  • Giving away money
  • Spending excessively
  • Financial management responsibilities are handed over to others without explanation or consent
  • Unexplained disappearance of cash or other assets
  • Unauthorized changes to legal documents
  • Property liens or foreclosure notices
  • Forged signatures for financial transactions
  • Unnecessary or overly costly services

Increasing Risk

Studies show that several factors increase the risk of abuse towards vulnerable individuals, including dependency on another for essential needs, an unhealthy or conflict-ridden relationship between the caregiver and care receiver, substance abuse and mental illness, caregiver stress, and cognitive or physical impairments.  It is essential to be aware of these factors to identify and prevent exploitation in caregiving situations.  Adequate support and training for caregivers can also help reduce the risk of abuse and ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable individuals.