which they live than advanced age per se (Smith, 1999) and that age alone should not lead to a presumption of incapacity (Wilber and Reynolds, 1996).

SIGNALS OF FINANCIAL ABUSE

Relying primarily on anecdotal evidence, personal experience, or commonly shared beliefs, practitioners have compiled and circulated a number of indicators that suggest when financial abuse of an elder person may be occurring. These indicators have been distributed to bank employees, lawyers, and the public in general. It is recommended that no single indicator be taken as establishing the existence of financial abuse, as there may be other explanations for the occurrence of the indicator; instead reliance is placed on a pattern or cluster of indicators (National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2001). It has also been argued that it is almost impossible to detect financial abuse without considerable knowledge of the victim’s financial affairs (Dessin, 2000). It has been suggested that bank tellers, personal bankers, officials responsible for registering deeds, family members, and neighbors are the most likely to observe the signs of financial abuse (Henningsen, 2001). The indicators can be grouped by the setting or circumstances in which they are most likely to be observed.18

For example, a number of indicators can be apparent during a visit to the home or residence of the elder person. A relatively obvious indicator is missing belongings or property (e.g., jewelry) (Hwang, 1996; National Center on Elder Abuse, 2001; National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001; National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2001; Zimka, 1997). Financial abuse may be suggested by an absence of documentation about financial arrangements or transactions (e.g., pensions, stock, government payments, credit card charges) (Central California Legal Services, 2001; National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2001). Implausible or evasive explanations by the elder person or the caregiver about the elder person’s finances, the elder person’s unawareness of or confusion about recently completed financial transactions, or the elder person appearing to be afraid or worried when talking about money may serve as indicators (Carroll, 2001; Central California Legal Services, 2001; National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001; National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2001). Alternatively, unpaid bills, eviction or foreclosure

18  

Wilber and Reynolds (1996) have developed a framework that organizes various indicators of financial abuse in such a way as to assist professionals to distinguish legitimate from illegitimate transactions.



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