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This Evidence Review is intended to sum up what is known about the financial abuse of older people.

Key findings

  • While it is difficult to measure prevalence, the best estimates are that approximately 130,000 people living in the community aged 65+ in the UK have suffered financial abuse at some point since turning 65. This is likely an underestimate.
  • While most older people assume they are most at risk from financial staff, most financial abuse is actually carried out by family members, particularly adult children of the victim.
  • Even if small amounts of money loss can be catastrophic to an older person, and financial abuse can have a huge negative emotional impact as well.

Financial Abuse

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Overview

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines elder financial abuse as ‘the illegal or improper exploitation or use of funds or other resources of the older person.’

This topic is now attracting renewed attention with increased numbers of people are living in the community with some form of cognitive impairment. A recent analysis by Age UK of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) estimates that about 400,000 people in England aged 65 or over have difficulty in managing their money.

This report summarises what research says about who is at risk, who the perpetraotrs are, the impacts, and the barriers against recognition and action on financial abuse. We include the challenges and possible preventative measures for professionals who work with older people, not only in finacial institutions but also health and care staff.

This review does not cover commercial abuse (scams) in any detail, nor the abuse of younger people.

You can also see a presentation by researchers from Brunel University on this topic here (Power point, 2MB).

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081