Older adults and vulnerable individuals are at an increased risk of financial exploitation based on a variety of lifestyle and health conditions.  Financial exploitation of elderly individuals is the most rapidly growing type of abuse in this population.

Elder abuse encompasses a wide range of mistreatment directed towards older adults, but it is important to note that abuse extends beyond this demographic. Vulnerable adults, regardless of age, are also at risk of experiencing abuse. While an older adult generally refers to an individual aged 60 years or older, a vulnerable adult can be younger than 60 and face mental and/or physical impairments that significantly impact their daily functioning and hinder their ability to live independently within their community.

Cоnѕіdеr a рhуѕісаllу іmраіrеd 27-year-old left іn hіѕ еxсrеmеnt for dауѕ at the hands of a caregiver – that’s abuse.  While any older person can suffer from abuse, some are at more significant risk of financial exploitation.  Financial exploitation robs seniors of their security and ultimately their dignity.  This silent problem can even cost victims their lives.

The following factors can increase the risk of financial exploitation:


Older adults may not have a good support network and limited or no access to trusted family or friends. The financial exploitation of elderly individuals can go unnoticed for a significant amount of time should they go unchecked. Seniors may not be able to identify if a particular occurrence is a scam.  After the scam takes place, they may not know how to get help.

Memory Health Concerns

Diseases, like Alzheimer’s and other dementias, can impact decision-making, clear thinking, and ultimately the ability to take care of oneself. Impaired memory makes these individuals prime targets for elder financial abuse because they cannot initially recognize signs of financial abuse and subsequently act against it.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, older Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease will likely more than double from 5.8 million to 13.8 million by 2050.

New Friendships

Older individuals who are lonely may look to fill the void with new friendships.  For those that lack a strong support system or don’t have one in close proximity, opportunistic individuals with malicious intentions may try to befriend them to steal their money.  Family and friends should be aware of new relationships in an older adult’s life, in case they present any red flags.

Caregiver Dependance

If an older adult is dependent on another individual for daily care, such as making food or helping with showering, there can be a greater risk of financial abuse.  Independence creates vulnerability and vulnerability creates an opportunity for someone to commit fraud.

Recent Life Changes

Older adults who have experienced a recent life change, such as the death of a spouse or loss of a job, may be more vulnerable to financial abuse.  In these situations, older adults may be struggling to adapt to the change and may be more open to offers of help or financial assistance.

Poor Financial Literacy

Older adults who have limited financial knowledge or who are inexperienced with managing their finances may be more vulnerable to financial abuse, as they may be less able to identify or prevent abuse.