As the percentage of the population of the United States represented by persons 65 years or older continues to increase, so does the incidence of mistreatment of the elderly, often by those in a position of trust. While such mistreatment can take many forms, including physical, psychological and emotional, a particularly pernicious form that is rapidly growing in California and around the country is financial elder abuse.
Research has shown that more than 10 percent of seniors have reported being exploited within the past 12 months, with the overwhelming majority of the perpetrators being family members or those who the victims have looked up to or trusted, such as caretakers, clergy or neighbors. Financial elder abuse can include using a financial power of attorney given by the victim to a family member to access bank accounts, or a potential heir refusing to procure needed medical care for the victim in order to keep his or her assets available. Another form involves investments, with trusted financial advisers promising unrealistic rates of return or pressuring seniors into taking out inappropriate loans.