Elder Abuse is Wrong: Financial Abuse

"Jim's Dilemma"

Jim sits in the sun outside the residence. His heart is still racing—he hadn't meant to tell his story to that young girl. It had just all poured out: how it looks like lending his car to Roger was a mistake, and how he'd thought the car would make it easier for the whole family to visit while he'd been in the hospital.

Now Jim wishes his son-in-law would bring the car back, even though he knows he'll never drive it again. The car is still registered in his name. What if Roger has an accident? If only Roger would just offer to buy it from him! That would be the proper thing to do. Roger knows Jim could really use the money to buy furniture for his new seniors' apartment. Everything has to fit in one room now.

Jim is afraid to rock the boat. He just can't find a way to confront Roger. What if Roger takes his anger out on Jim's daughter? He knows that has happened before. Would Jim's family still come to visit him if Roger got angry? Would he keep them away? Maybe it's time to check out that computer in the lounge room to see if there might be something on the Internet that could help, even if it's just what to do about the car insurance.

What does it look like?

Financial (or economic) abuse involves acting without consent in a way that financially benefits one person at the expense of another. This may include:

  • Stealing from you
  • Keeping you from making your own financial decisions
  • Withholding money for things you need (food, housing or medical treatment)
  • Pressuring you to share your home or your car, or baby-sit your grandchildren when you don't want to
  • Making frequent requests for money
  • Failing to repay loans
  • Taking your money or cashing your cheques without your permission
  • Pressuring you to sign over your house or property or to sign legal documents that you don't understand
  • Overcharging you for services.

Most forms of financial abuse are crimes, including theft, criminal breach of trust, forgery and fraud. It is also a crime to misuse a Power of Attorney.

Financial abuse can also include marriages where a person deliberately pressures an older person of limited capacity into marriage solely for financial profit.

What can I do?

  • Tell someone you trust
  • Ask for help if you think you are experiencing financial abuse
  • Have cheques deposited directly into your own bank account
  • Consult a lawyer about legal options available to manage and protect your property
  • Ask a lawyer what choices you have to keep your property or money safe.
  • Ask someone you trust to look over contracts and other papers before you sign them
  • Change your Power of Attorney to someone you can trust
  • Contact the police, if you think a crime has been committed.
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