Financial abuse of older people – Recognition

Content Summary


The signs are not always clear

An incidence of financial abuse of an older person may be intentional and clearly wrong, perhaps involving illegal activity, in which case it is likely to be easy to identify.

However, abuse is not always easy to recognise. Sometimes arrangements, originally motivated by good intentions, gradually erode into financial abuse as the perpetrator succumbs to the temptation of opportunity, misguided feelings of entitlement, or even revenge for perceived past injustices.

Although recognising the potential for financial abuse of an older person may not always be easy, there are several factors which, if present, may indicate a heightened danger of abuse. If you observe any of these factors , we encourage you to ask more questions and to be more alert to the risk of financial abuse.

Warning signs

Consider whether your client appears to be:

  • vulnerable
  • displaying reduced capacity
  • dependent
  • isolated.

Be mindful of these behaviours when advising a client on future arrangements (prevention) and, if one or more of the above features are evident, be especially alert when assisting the older person with existing arrangements (remediation).

Abuse is most commonly carried out by family members and in particular by adult sons. Victims often believe that having children that care about them mitigates against the risk of financial abuse.