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The Psychological Impact of Financial Elder Abuse

Financial elder abuse can take a severe economic toll on its victims and compromise their ability to live their lives to the fullest. While the economic effects of this type of elder abuse are well-known, less known (or at least less discussed) are its psychological effects. A study by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) found that nearly two-thirds of the victims of financial fraud experienced at least one non-financial cost to a serious degree, including severe stress, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and depression. If you or someone you love has experienced financial exploitation, a California financial elder abuse attorney can help you seek justice.  

What Is Financial Elder Abuse? 

There are several different kinds of elder abuse, but financial elder abuse occurs when the perpetrator exploits the victim for financial gain. The perpetrators of financial elder abuse typically engage in one or more of the following behaviors to accomplish their goals: 

If you suspect that someone you know is being victimized by any of the above types of elder abuse, a California financial elder abuse lawyer can help you identify the red flags

How Financial Elder Abuse Affects Mental Health 

The effects of financial elder abuse go far beyond the victim’s pocketbook. Most victims of financial elder abuse also suffer one or more mental health effects, which, in severe cases, can lead to diminished physical health outcomes. 

Loss of Trust 

The sad reality of elder financial abuse is that it is most frequently committed by individuals whom the victim trusts, such as friends, caregivers, housekeepers, and financial professionals. While this is unfortunate, it also makes a great deal of sense, given that trusted individuals are more likely to have access to the victim’s possessions and sensitive financial information. Professionals who commit financial elder abuse can cause the most damage because they have access to their victim’s most private information and may have direct access to their financial accounts. Financial elder abuse committed by people the victim trusts leads to a loss of trust more generally, often resulting in disillusionment, pessimism, and cynicism. 

Loss of Independence 

Most seniors are fiercely protective of their independence and attempt to maintain it as long as possible. This is for good reason, as maintaining the ability to live independently is an essential element of self-agency. Unfortunately, financial elder abuse can often rob seniors of their independence. Even small hits to a senior’s finances can result in them increasingly relying on friends, family members, and even government programs for support. For example, consider a senior who is aging in place and can handle everything except yard work, so she hires a gardener for lawn maintenance. After becoming the victim of financial elder abuse, she no longer has enough disposable income to retain the professional gardener, so she must turn to friends and family for help. Real estate-based financial elder abuse, such as reverse mortgage fraud, can result in the victim losing their home, which may necessitate moving in with friends or family members. 


Anxiety is a persistent feeling of fear, dread, nervousness, worry, or panic. Many people experience chronic anxiety due to chemical imbalances in the brain, but it can also be triggered by a particularly stressful or traumatic event, such as financial elder abuse. Severe anxiety can often interfere with the sufferer’s activities of daily living, as it can cause the sufferer to avoid things, people, or places that trigger the anxiety. It can also result in physical ailments, including sweating, trembling, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, high blood pressure, and hyperventilation. 


Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and fatigue and is often associated with a loss of interest in doing things the sufferer once enjoyed. Chronic depression can be triggered by an upsetting or particularly stressful life event, such as a sudden loss of income due to financial elder abuse. Like anxiety, depression can also manifest physically, such as through aches and pains, weight loss or gain, sleep disturbances (i.e., sleeping too much or not enough), and gastrointestinal issues. In the most severe cases, depression can cause suicidal thoughts and ideation. 

Shame, Embarrassment, and Lowered Self-Esteem

Even though financial elder abuse is never the victim’s fault, becoming the victim of a scam, fraud, or other type of financial exploitation can be a deeply embarrassing experience for many people. We all like to think that we are sharp enough to avoid being taken advantage of. But given the increasingly sophisticated methods of scammers, particularly purveyors of internet-based financial elder abuse, even the most eagle-eyed among us can unwittingly fall into their traps. Many victims experience shame, embarrassment, and lowered self-esteem after discovering that they have been financially abused. 


Isolation is a key tool in the financial elder abuser’s arsenal. After all, it is easier to financially abuse a person who is isolated from their friends, family, and community than it is to financially abuse someone with a robust and active social life. Isolation of the victim is particularly common in cases of elder abuse by caregivers and in cases where the abuser is using undue influence to coerce the victim into changing their estate plans. Often, a senior is most vulnerable just after losing a beloved spouse of many years. Finally, isolation may be self-induced, such as when the victim of financial elder abuse is too embarrassed or afraid to report the abuse or ask for help. 

Speak to a San Francisco Financial Elder Abuse Attorney to Discuss Your Options for Recovery 

The victims of financial elder abuse and those who care for them have several legal options to fight back against financial elder abusers. For more information, please contact a San Francisco financial elder abuse lawyer 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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"I contacted Attorney Ingrid Evans for advice about a financial elder abuse case. She was extremely knowledgeable, bright and informative. I highly recommend her. I am an attorney myself, and know when I am talking to a another excellent attorney."
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