promise of lifelong care may be accompanied by an implicit or explicit expectation that the elder person’s funds will be transferred to the caregiver (Hwang, 1996).
Family members who are addicted to alcohol or drugs or who indicate they feel entitled to the elder person’s funds may suggest financial abuse (Hwang, 1996). Alternatively, a circle of mutual dependence or conflict that engulfs family members may engender financial abuse or leave family members blind to its possibility (Gold and Gwyther, 1989).
A second setting in which indicators of financial abuse may arise is associated with the conduct of banking transactions. For example, financial abuse may be suggested by withdrawals from or transfers between bank accounts that the older person cannot explain, unusual or unexplained sudden activity, including large withdrawals (particularly when the elder person is accompanied by another person), or frequent transfers or ATM withdrawals (Coker and Little, 1997; Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2001; Henningsen, 2001; Hwang, 1996; National Center on Elder Abuse, 2001; National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001; National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2001). Other indicators include having bank statements and canceled checks sent to an address that is not the elder person’s residence, suspicious signatures on checks or other documents, and the inclusion of additional names on an elder person’s credit card or bank signature card (Coker and Little, 1997; National Center on Elder Abuse, 2001; National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001; National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, 2001; Zimka, 1997).
Related indicators focus on deviations from the elder person’s usual banking behavior (Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2001; National Center on Elder Abuse, 2001). They include suspicious activity on credit card accounts; bank activity that is erratic, unusual, or uncharacteristic; and bank activity inconsistent with the person’s abilities (e.g., ATM withdrawals by someone who is homebound) (Central California Legal Services, 2001; Coker and Little, 1997; Dessin, 2000; Zimka, 1997). Another indication is provided when individuals have no awareness of the current state of their personal financial affairs (Rush and Lank, 2000). A signal may be provided when checks uncharacteristically begin to lack adequate funds to cover them, when the person is in debt and does not know why, when mostly smaller checks increase to larger checks for a variety of items, or an unusual number of checks are written to “cash” (Carroll, 2001; Dessin, 2000; Henningsen, 2001; National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001).
A third cluster of indicators is associated with legal transactions involving the elder person and is directed largely at attorneys. They include the execution of legal documents or arrangements, such as powers of attorney,