Most seniors fail to report incidents of financial exploitation, according to new research.
In “2014 Safeguarding Our Seniors,” published by Allianz Life, one in five (19 percent) of adults ages 40 to 64 reported they have an older friend or family member who has been a victim elder abuse. Of this total, more than half (55 percent) said the victims did not report the financial abuse.
The study of more than 2,000 Americans — both potential victims (ages 65-plus) and other adults (ages 40 to 64) — finds that misconceptions persist about the most likely sources of abuse. And the financial impact on victims, though underreported, is often significant.
“Although past studies have explored elder financial abuse, it’s crucial to get a current picture to help determine how the financial services industry can best address this difficult yet preventable problem,” says Allianz Life President and CEO Walter White. “As America’s population gets older, the number of seniors with age-related cognitive impairments naturally is expected to grow.
“Greater awareness about the frequency of elder financial abuse will foster more discussion about ways to keep our seniors safe from financial exploitation,” he adds.
While the number of elders in the study who say they have suffered financial abuse is relatively small (5 percent), that number is likely an underestimate because some seniors might not self-identify or report abuse, the survey indicates. Given that the senior population is expected to surpass 54 million in 2020, the Allianz Life study suggests that millions of American seniors could experience financial abuse.