• misusing ATMs or credit cards (New York State Department of Law, 2000);

  • cashing an elder person’s checks without permission or authorization (National Center on Elder Abuse, 2001);

  • misappropriating funds from a pension (New York State Department of Law, 2000; Langan and Means, 1996);

  • getting an elder person to sign a deed, will, contract, or power of attorney through deception, coercion, or undue influence (National Center on Elder Abuse, 2001; National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001; National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2001);

  • providing true but misleading information that influences the elder person’s use or assignment of assets (Dessin, 2000);

  • persuading an impaired elder person to change a will or insurance policy to alter who benefits from the will or policy (Central California Legal Services, 2001; Frolik, 2001; Smith, 1999);

  • using a power of attorney, including a durable power of attorney, for purposes beyond those for which it was originally executed (Hwang, 1996; National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001; Thilges, 2000);

  • improperly using the authority provided by a conservatorship, trust, etc. (National Center on Elder Abuse, 2001);

  • negligently mishandling assets, including misuse by a fiduciary or caregiver (Dessin, 2000);

  • promising long-term or lifelong care in exchange for money or property and not following through on the promise (National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2001);

  • overcharging for or not delivering caregiving services (Central California Legal Services, 2001); and

  • denying elder persons access to their money or preventing them from controlling their assets (National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001; Smith, 1999).

PREVALENCE AND IMPACT OF FINANCIAL ABUSE

Prevalence of Financial Abuse of the Elderly

The prevalence of financial abuse of the elderly (like elder abuse in general) is difficult to estimate because there is no national reporting mechanism to record and analyze it, cases often are not reported, definitions vary, and it is difficult to detect (Coker and Little, 1997; Deem, 2000; National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001). However, the consensus is that it is a significant problem (Dessin, 2000).

The National Center for Elder Abuse found that financial abuse accounted nationally for about 12 percent of all substantiated elder abuse



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