Elder Abuse Pt. 1: How does financial abuse happen?

This month, we are running a series of blog posts to urge British Columbians to be aware and report financial abuse involving seniors. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day occurs every June 15 and Seniors’ Week in BC is June 3 to 9. We encourage you to share these posts with friends, family, or people who work with the elderly to bring attention to the issue.

Unfortunately, elder abuse is a common occurrence. According to 1996 research done by Simon Fraser University, eight per cent of BC seniors (60+) experienced financial abuse, and a further 10 per cent not experiencing financial abuse were aware of a close friend or relative that had. Furthermore, one in 12 victims report losing more than $20,000.

For people living on a fixed income, losing money to an investment scam can be devastating. When seniors lose money, they often don’t have the means to recover it. Even if they’ve planned carefully, a dent in their nest egg can seriously alter their lifestyle. We also know the stress of being victimized can impact a person’s health from our own research.

In our InvestRight seminar, we point out that one of the victims of an investment scam that occurred in the Kamloops area had two strokes. Another man who also had a stroke, lost his ability to speak.

So what can you to stop this from happening to someone you know or love?

People who steal money from older people tend to be in a position of trust – it can be a caregiver, or a scam artist who knows how to befriend elderly people. This webpage describes the how older people are taken advantage of by people who end up stealing their savings.

It’s also important to remember family members may also take advantage of a grandparent or elderly parent. This article in Investment Executive describes how people use power of attorney to take money from, or put an elderly family member into unsuitable investments.

In our next post, we will discuss how retirees and pre-retirees are targeted by scam artists.