Bonnie, former PTA President.
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Know the signs

Elder Abuse: Know the Signs


An aging population means a growing risk of Elder Abuse. Do you know what to watch for to protect yourself or loved ones?


Common Forms of Abuse

Elder Abuse can consist of financial exploitation, physical abuse, or both. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, financial exploitation is the most common, but only a small fraction of incidents are reported.

There are many manifestations of abuse, and not all are specifically financial abuse:

  • Missing belongings and/or property
  • New “best friends”
  • Poor hygiene
  • Family dynamics (mismanaged assets; poor choice of financial caregiver; undue influence)
  • Financial activity (unusual account activity; late/unpaid bills)
  • Suspicious home repairs, ‘lottery’ winnings, or other scams


Financial Exploitation

Elder financial exploitation is the illegal or improper use of an older adult’s funds, property, or assets. The abusers can be strangers who gain an elder’s trust, but they are often a friend or family member.



What are the Warning Signs?

What should you look for as a warning sign of Elder Abuse?

  • Has the elder suddenly made new friends?
  • Has the elder become secretive or appear to be depressed?
  • Has the elder suddenly become more concerned about money or finances, or conversely, suddenly seem less worried about money?


What Makes Someone Vulnerable?

There are a few common traits or circumstances that might make someone particularly susceptible. These include:

  • Dependence on others for assistance
  • Existing assets and regular income
  • Fearful/embarrassed to report abusers
  • Cognitive and/or physical impairments
  • Lonely or isolated
  • Trusting


Useful Resources and Information

Our Financial Education Center includes some helpful presentations regarding recognizing and preventing Elder Abuse, as well as selecting or acting as a Financial Caregiver.

For useful information on reporting suspected Elder Abuse to the City and County of San Francisco’s Adult Protective Services, click here. For those outside San Francisco, you should report to your local department of Adult Protective Services or the police.

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