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The Long-Term Impact of Financial Elder Abuse on Families

Elder abuse, particularly financial elder abuse, is unfortunately common. While seniors are the most directly impacted by financial exploitation, there are larger societal impacts as well. The National Council on Aging estimates that financial abuse and fraud cost seniors an estimated $2.6 to $36.5 billion every year. With such a large financial impact, elder abuse causes extensive collateral damage to the family members of its victims. Rather than thinking of elder abuse on an individual level, it is more accurate to consider it as a family problem. Below, our California financial elder abuse attorney explains some of the long-term impacts of financial elder abuse on its victims and their families.

Impacts for Seniors

Seniors are the primary victims of financial elder abuse. While physical elder abuse is generally considered the most severe form of elder abuse, financial elder abuse can also have devastating long-term impacts on its victims. And those impacts are not only financial — in some cases, financial elder abuse can even result in physical harm. 

Financial Hardship

Many seniors rely on fixed incomes for the needs of daily living, including mortgage payments, utilities, groceries, and medicine, among others. Because most seniors are unable to reenter the workforce if they need to, any decline in income can have serious consequences on their ability to afford the things they need. This, in turn, can have downstream effects, such as isolation from friends and family and reduced mental capacity. 

Fewer Housing Options

Senior housing is expensive, particularly in California. While costs vary from location to location, the average cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home is almost $8,000 per month, while assisted living facilities can range from $3,500 to $10,500 per month. A significant decrease in a senior’s income can result in less access to quality living arrangements, often requiring them to take up residence in less desirable settings.

Increased Reliance on Government Assistance

Government assistance programs provide somewhat of a safety net for seniors struggling financially. However, navigating the red tape of various programs and their qualification criteria can be a significant challenge for most seniors. And while government assistance provides at least some cushion, it is often not enough to allow seniors to enjoy the lifestyle to which they were once accustomed.

Diminished Health Outcomes

The consequences of financial elder abuse are not merely financial. In many cases, they can include diminished health outcomes. For example, reduced income can result in an inability to afford necessary medications, which can have immediate negative impacts. Over the longer term, seniors may struggle to pay for in-home care, which increases the risk of slips, falls, self-neglect, and dehydration and malnutrition. For more information on how financial elder abuse can lead to physical harm, please contact a San Francisco financial elder abuse attorney.

Impacts for Families

The families of the victims of financial elder abuse are its secondary victims. While the consequences of financial elder abuse generally are less dire for families than for seniors themselves, they can create significant hardships. Families attempting to recover from the financial elder abuse of a loved one should speak to a California financial elder abuse lawyer to discuss their options.

Smaller Estates Left Behind

Estate planning is a critical component of every senior’s legacy. After working hard and making smart financial decisions over the course of their lives, most are proud to leave behind the biggest estate they can for their descendants. And many of their descendants rely on their expected inheritances to build their family wealth. Financial elder abuse, particularly related to estate planning through undue influence, forgery, and other forms of fraud, can seriously compromise these expected financial gains.

Increased Responsibility for Financial Assistance

There is no requirement for family members to pick up the slack for senior loved ones who have been the victims of financial elder abuse. However, many families still choose to do so. This can include responsibility for assistance with housing costs, healthcare, utilities, groceries, medications, and caregiving, among others. Assisting a senior with the needs of their daily lives can put a significant dent in a family’s finances and leave less for other pursuits.  

Psychological Effects

All forms of elder abuse can take a psychological toll on the elder’s family. Once the abuse is discovered, many family members feel a profound sense of guilt and some degree of responsibility for the abuse, even if they were not directly involved in it. When the abuse is committed by someone the family thought they trusted — such as a caregiver, financial advisor, insurance agent, realtor, or other professional — they may face difficulties trusting other people in the future.

Familial Rifts

It’s not unusual for the family members of seniors affected by financial elder abuse to come together initially. But that initial unity can often devolve into bickering, finger-pointing, and disagreements over how to handle the recovery efforts after an incident of abuse. These familial rifts can deepen and harden over time when the abuser is a member of the family or merely suspected of being a member of the family. 

Loss of Quality Time

The financial losses from elder abuse may result in psychological damage to their victims. Many of the victims of elder abuse become depressed, anxious, and withdrawn, and generally show much less interest in doing the things that previously brought them joy. This can result in less quality time spent with family.

Recover From Economic Loss With Help From a San Francisco Financial Elder Abuse Lawyer

The impact of financial elder abuse can be felt far beyond the individual victim who experiences it. However, there are a variety of legal avenues available to the families of the victims of financial elder abuse that they can pursue to lessen its long-term impact. The best way to pursue those avenues to recovery is with the assistance of an experienced attorney. For more information, please contact a San Francisco 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).

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