Financial Elder Abuse: Crime of the Century?

Jan 13 10:04 2016 Jen Mur Print This Article

Elder abuse affects five million senior annually, costing them up to #36 billion annulay. Is this one of America's most overlooked crimes finally coming to the surface? 

The crime of the 21st Century. Rampant,Guest Posting invisible and lethal. A disgrace. These are all quotes from a prominent finance magazine, a protective services agent and a journalist. And, this time, they’re not referring to gun abuse or Making a Murderer’s Steven Avery- they’re discussing the growing rise in elder abuse.


Annually, five million Americans are affected by some form of elder abuse with only one in every 24 incidents reported to authorities. This is according to The Elder Justice Roadmap released by the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).


“[Elder] abuse can be more complex than simply striking someone,” Riverside elder abuse attorney Graham Donath said.


His site goes on to list four types of elder neglect, classified under the law: physical, emotional, neglect and financial. The latter is by far, the most prominent- especially when the abuser is a family member. Briefly, elder financial abuse is defined as exploiting an elder for monetary gain through the improper or illegal use of their funds, property, or assets (the age to be considered “elder” varies by some states).  


It was Executive Director of the National Adult Protective Services Association Kathleen Quinn who called elder abuse “rampant, largely invisible, expensive and lethal”.


She was not exaggerating; it costs seniors billions of dollars. However, to go into more specifics is hard to do. There are multiple studies attempting to nail down the losses from financial abuse but few that land on the same dollar.


A widely quoted study by MetLife from 2011 estimates $2.9 billion annually. True Link Financial, a company that sells services to protect older individuals from such abuse, says the annual cost is actually 12 times MetLife’s estimate at $36.5 billion. The Elder Justice Report just sticks to billions. Any of these numbers warrants Kiplinger’s Personal Finance deeming elder financial abuse the crime of the century.


If determining the financial burden is too difficult, how can abuse be prevented, a seemingly more challenging aspect? While The Elder Justice Roadmap didn’t bother over analyzing the monetary loss, they did create the “Top 5 Priorities” on how to enhance both public and private responses to elder abuse, based on the author’s interviews with 750 experts and professionals who work with older adults.


  1. Awareness: With the elder population skyrocketing, the report calls to increase awareness of elder abuse, “a multi-faceted problem that requires a holistic, well-coordinated response in services, education, policy, and research.”
  2. Brain Health: It calls for more research into brain health, with an enhanced focus on cognitive (in)capacity and mental health. These are critical factors for both victims and abusers.
  3. Caregiving: Increase and enhance support and training for the millions of paid and unpaid caregivers who play crucial roles in preventing elder abuse.
  4. Economics: The huge disparities in the cost of financial abuse is detrimental- the report wants to see a quantified. They list this as a top priority as the problem comes with huge fiscal costs for victims, loved ones and society
  5. Resources: To make one through four happen, there needs to be more strategic investments into resources including education, research, services and expanding knowledge.

While these are long-term priorities, the report had immediate benefits. The Department of Justice, a co-sponsor of the report, produced training modules to help fraud and embezzlement lawyers spot possible financial exploitation of elders. HHS, the other sponsor, is developing a national adult protective services data system to track and study reports of abuse. The National Center on Elder Abuse created their Red Flags of Abuse Factsheet, hitting the awareness and resources points from the top priorities list.

Hopefully this is not our elder’s 15 minutes of fame. The “baby boomers” are grandparents now- the Census calculates there will be 19 million people over the age of 85 by 2050 in America, a jump from 5.8 million in 2010. Soon, more people than ever will become vulnerable to elder abuse.

Source: Free Guest Posting Articles from

About Article Author

Jen Mur
Jen Mur

Jen Mur writes on behalf of The Law Offices of Graham Donath to help aid in their partnership with safety advocate groups working to raise awareness of elder abuse.

View More Articles