A report this year by Allianz Life, sheds a sad light on elder abuse. But, the research also provides an opportunity for advisors to open the conversation with clients about the harm that could befall them, even at the hands of loved ones.
In a conversation with Allianz Life President and CEO Walter White, he said that advisors can be (and should be) part of the solution. “They can look for red flags (when studying a client’s financials.) They can make sense of unexplained issues and be stewards for the clients.”
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,” said 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 added.
The report added that several factors — aging, wealth and decreasing mental capacity — contribute to making the elderly vulnerable to financial abuse.
The U.S. Census Bureau projects that more than 20 percent of the total population will be age 65 or older by 2030. Among this group, many will likely hold considerable wealth. Baby boomers control more than $16 trillion in household investable assets, according to a LIMRA 2011 report.