The Long-Term Consequences of Financial Elder Abuse
Financial elder abuse is the most commonly reported form of abuse against elder adults. While estimates vary, some research suggests that financial elder abuse can cost seniors nationwide up to $36.5 billion annually. Financial elder abuse is also one of the most insidious forms of elder abuse, as it often occurs little by little over the course of many years. In many cases, its victims are unaware that it has been happening until it is too late. If you suspect that a friend or family member is the victim of financial elder abuse, please consider speaking to a California financial elder abuse attorney who can help you investigate the situation and put a stop to any further abuse.
The most common and obvious long-term effect of financial elder abuse is general financial hardship. Many seniors live on fixed incomes, which can make recovery from financial elder abuse very difficult. Such financial hardship can have dire effects, such as:
- Inability to maintain housing/care facility payments
- Inability to afford in-home healthcare
- Inability to pay utility bills
- Inability to pay for food and medications
- Difficulty obtaining reliable transportation
- Isolation from friends and family
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Slips and falls
In some extreme cases, the victims of financial elder abuse may lose their entire life savings, which can seriously compromise their standard of living. A California financial elder abuse attorney can help you identify the red flags of financial elder abuse and ensure that its perpetrators are held accountable.
Food and Housing Insecurity
Food insecurity is unfortunately common among the senior population. It generally occurs where household-level economic and social conditions lead to limited or uncertain access to quality food. According to a study by Feeding America, 1 in 14 (or 7.1%) of adults age 60 and older nationwide suffer from food insecurity. Among adults aged 50-59, that number rises to 1 in 11, or 9.4%. Long-term food insecurity is associated with poor nutrition, which in turn is associated with a wide range of chronic health conditions.
Elderly adults also frequently face housing-related challenges, including those related to affordability, physical accessibility, access to medical services, and maintenance. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, over 10 million households headed by someone age 65 and over are cost-burdened (i.e., paying more than a third of their incomes on housing), and half of those pay more than 50% on housing. The problem is even more dire for renters; in 2019, the median older renter had a net wealth of only $6,000. Long-term financial elder abuse can easily push cost-burdened senior households into homelessness.
Reduced Access to Quality Medical Care
Seniors in the United States typically pay more for healthcare than those in other high-income countries, despite the robust benefits of Medicare. A study by the Commonwealth Fund showed that, in 2021, one-fifth of older adults in the United States paid more than $2,000 in out-of-pocket healthcare expenses per year. This led to lower percentages of elderly Americans seeking medical care and higher percentages skipping medical tests and treatments due to their associated costs. These costs present a higher barrier to medical care for the victims of long-term financial elder abuse, making it less likely that they will seek medical care when they need it.
Reduced Access to Quality Senior Living
Elderly adults have many options for senior living and housing, including aging in place, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and independent living, just to name a few. While Medicare and long-term care insurance can pay for a portion of these living expenses, they often are not enough to cover the complete costs. As such, elderly adults who have been the victims of long-term financial elder abuse are at a significant disadvantage when choosing their living arrangements. This can have a number of effects, including:
- Housing facilities that do not provide the appropriate level of care
- Housing facilities that are far from friends, family, and other support networks
- Housing facilities with a history of nursing home abuse and nursing home neglect
- Housing facilities with a history of unsanitary conditions and poor hygiene
Nursing home abuse and other deficiencies can seriously impact their victims’ physical and mental health, as well as their long-term quality of life prospects. A California financial elder abuse attorney can help put a stop to financial elder abuse before it compromises a senior’s housing prospects.
Smaller Estates to Leave Behind
After working and making smart financial decisions throughout their lives, most elderly adults are proud to leave a sizable estate to their heirs, friends, and favorite charities. Unfortunately, long-term financial elder abuse can chip away at those estates, either through direct misappropriation (such as power of attorney fraud or a trustee’s breach of fiduciary duty) or by accumulating so much debt in the victim’s name that the estate must be used to pay the debts upon his or her death.
Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mental Health Issues
The victims of financial elder abuse often suffer from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health issues as a result of the abuse they have endured. This is particularly true in cases where the abuse was perpetrated by a family member. Once they discover that the abuse has occurred, many elderly adults may become withdrawn and significantly less likely to trust others. In other cases, victims may develop permanent financial anxiety and live under constant fear that the abuse will occur again. Studies show that victims of financial elder abuse do not live as long as those older persons who are not financially exploited.
Put a Stop to Financial Elder Abuse With Help From a California Financial Elder Abuse Attorney
Long-term financial elder abuse can have significant and devastating effects on its victims. Some of those effects can even result in diminished healthcare outcomes. If you suspect that someone you care about is the victim of financial elder abuse, you should act quickly to prevent further losses. For more information, please contact a California financial elder abuse attorney at the Evans Law Firm, Inc., by using our online contact form or calling 415-441-8669 or toll-free at 1-888-50EVANS (888-503-8267).