Due to its rise, financial abuse is being called the crime of the 21st century. According to a MetLife study, about $3 billion is lost annually by older Americans to the problem and the losses went up during the financial crisis.
It is estimated that only one out of five cases of elder abuse is reported. That’s why there are no exact statistics on the actual number of elders who are abused physically or financially every year.
Micheline Sommers, LMSW, Director of Older Adult Specialty Service, Oakland Family Services, shares nine things to watch out for in order to prevent financial abuse of an elder.
Here are nine warning signs:
1. Withdrawals of money that are erratic or not consistent of the older person’s spending habits
2. Withdrawals of money that are inconsistent or out of the budget of the older person’s income
3. Changing a will or property title to leave home or other valuable assets to “new” friends or relatives
4. Older person “can’t find” or seems to always “misplace” jewelry or valuable personal belongings
5. Strange and suspicious activity on credit card accounts
6. Lack of basic necessities or amenities, when the older person could afford them
7. Not getting their prescriptions filled or untreated medical problems
8. The level of care-giving is not commensurate with the old person’s income or assets
Financial exploitation is a common form of elder abuse that is often hard to detect.
By paying attention to these nine warning signs will help a family member or friend to know when something is not right. To help reduce the number of elder abuse cases in Michigan, call Adult Protective Services at 855.444.3911.
About: Micheline Sommers, LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker)
Micheline Sommers is the Director of Older Adult Specialty Services at Oakland Family Services.
She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and has a Specialist in Aging designation from the Institute of Gerontology. She has been in the geriatric field for over 25 years and offers presentations on topics of interest for older adults and their caregivers at the national, state and local level.
Micheline is also:
• The Project Director on a SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) grant to provide mental health services to older adults
• A recent recipient of a Mentoring Grant from the Alliance for Children and Families to assist a member agency in developing mental health programming for older adults
• A member of the American Society on Aging Mental Health and Aging Network Leadership Council
• Past Chair of Geriatric Social Workers of Southeast Michigan
• The representative for Geriatric education on the Michigan Social Work Education Collaborative
• A member of the Southeast Michigan Senior Regional Collaborative
• Older Adult Advocate and Vice President of the Oakland County Citizen’s Alliance for Probate & Circuit Courts, Oakland County Suicide Prevention Coalition
• A founding member of the Oakland County Elder Abuse Task Force
• A member of the Coordinated Community Response Coalition for Oakland and Wayne Counties (expanding the outreach for Elder Abuse Awareness)
• A member of the Older Persons’ Commission Governing Board
• Co-Chair of the Waterford Aging Network Steering Committee.