NPR Series Focuses on Financial Abuse of the Elderly

National Public Radio (NPR) recently featured a two-part series on financial abuse of the elderly. Such financial abuse involves the illegal or improper use of an elder's funds, property or assets. It can include cashing an elderly person's checks without their permission; forging their signature; stealing or misusing their money or possessions; or abusing a power of attorney.

There are up to 5 million instances of financial abuse of the elderly each year, according to NPR, but many incidents go unreported because the perpetrator is usually a trusted relative or friend whom elders are reluctant to turn over to the authorities.

NPR's first report focuses on the case of a mentally impaired senior who lost nearly $700,000 to his closest friend. In gaining a conviction against the man, prosecutors charged the abuser with using undue influence, a concept that has been used in civil cases like disputes over wills, but not in criminal cases before now. The case, which is on appeal, is being closely followed in legal circles.

Part two looks at the challenges authorities face in rooting out elder abuse, including the case of a 91-year-old woman who is unlikely to press charges against her 52-year-old son, despite indications of exploitation.

To listen to the NPR reports and read a list of signs of elder financial abuse, go to: