Financial abuse against seniors is a chronic problem causing devastation to families who are left to support their elderly loved ones. This is not just an anecdotal claim. A new survey by Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America has procured some compelling evidence regarding the significant impact of past elder financial abuse cases.
The company surveyed 1,000 individuals and found that the average caregiver spends $7,000 annually on persons 65 years and older. The survey also concluded caregivers spend an average of 10 hours of their own time per week to provide noncash support. This includes activities such as delivering meals, driving the seniors to doctor’s appointments and engaging in social activities.
More compelling still, the survey found that caregivers who look after seniors who have been past victims of financial abuse spent 56% more on caregiving costs than those who are caring for elders with no history of financial abuse.
This supports the concerns of seniors advocates everywhere who see elder financial abuse as part of a larger economic and social problem. This financial abuse affects far more than just the individual senior. Many families are now having to dip into their life savings to cover the costs of elder financial abuse.
Central to this problem is the notion that elder financial abuse is a chronically underreported and underrecognized social and economic issue. As the population ages, this issue may only continue to worsen. It is important for all seniors and caregivers to be aware of the potential for financial vulnerability and the possibility of financial abuse.
A 2014 survey by Allianz Life called Safeguarding Our Seniors found that 20% of people reported knowing someone who had been a victim of elder financial abuse. Experts believe that financial abuse among seniors is massively underreported for many reasons. If this is the case, elder financial abuse could be a much more pervasive problem than we currently know.
Allianz Life and other organizations work to study and assess the current landscape of financial fraud among seniors so that it can be prevented. This starts with acquiring a better understanding of who perpetrates financial abuse against seniors. It is a common misconception that telemarketing, mail and internet scams are responsible for the majority of financial fraud against seniors. However, the reality is that over half of financial abuse against seniors is committed by a family member, friend, caregiver or someone the person is familiar with.
Most significantly, this latest Allianz Life survey found that the average monetary loss among victims of senior financial fraud is $36,000. In 90% of cases, the family members or caregivers of these victims are also directly affected. The hope is that with increased studies like these, more seniors and their families will be better equipped to protect themselves and their life savings. Read more on the results from this survey.