A drastic change in financial situation that can't be explained is a sign of potential elder abuse. In some situations, caregivers simply steal money outright, believing that the elder won't notice or report it. Or, the elder may be bullied or manipulated into giving away large sums of money or rewriting a will. The most devious way that this exploitative abuse occurs, however, is when a person takes over the elder's finances completely.
While not every elderly person is unable to handle the demands of keeping up with finances, some are. When that's the case, the elder might place the caregiver on his or her bank account. This means that the caregiver can write checks and withdraw money to act on the elder's behalf, which can provide peace of mind for the elder and his or her family. But it also leaves the account holder vulnerable, because the other person can do whatever he or she wishes with that money.
Ask yourself these questions if you're worried: Does the elder have unpaid bills laying around? Does he or she suddenly seem unable to afford things that shouldn't be a big stretch? Does he or she dodge financial questions? What about the caregiver -- have you noticed any big purchase? If you suspect something is going on, it may be best to discuss it with other concerned people before initiating a confrontation -- finances can be a tricky subject to bring up.
Next, we'll look at another sign of elder abuse: conflicts between elder and caregiver.