Financial abuse is abuse!
Just as we tend to forget about psychological violence and abuse, we tend to underestimate financial abuse. Yet, losing your capacity to make decisions over your own savings and spending equates to losing your economic independence and thus your capacity to independently decide for your lifestyle. By Anne-Sophie Parent
For many, financial abuse would amount to stealing someone’s money. If stealing is indeed a common form of elder abuse, financial abuse can also take more pernicious forms… As a matter of fact, bank accounts looted by means of extorted powers of attorney are still the most common forms of financial abuse experienced by older people.
Financial elder abuse takes various forms: Scams (for instance, through changing the name of beneficiary of a life insurance or occupying dwellings without the right to do so), but also abusing weak older persons (through canvassing and forced sale, unnecessary or overcharged work, a tutor leaving the person in destitution), extorted donations and bequests and captured inheritance are all examples of financial abuse that the recent digitalisation of the financial sector has aggravated.
The new digitised means of payment and the various electronic applications provide an additional opportunity for perpetrators of financial abuse because of their lack of accessibility, which forces some older people to share their PIN code or to give access to their bank account to a third party.
According to a survey conducted in 2008 in four European countries (Belgium, Spain, France and Italy), one in three to one in two older people said they had been victims of financial abuse.
Financial abuse deserves as much attention as other forms of detrimental treatment on older people. If we wish to build a society where all age groups can take their share, there is no other way that fighting all forms of abuse!
Anne-Sophie Parent is AGE Platform Europe Secretary General.