A study by Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America finds that elder fraud also hurts caregivers.
Nearly 90 percent of caregivers said they experienced a financial impact when their elder was financially abused, with the average cost to caregivers reaching a “staggering $36,000.”
In addition, those providing care for past victims are spending significantly more than those caring for elders with no history of financial abuse, which in turn is negatively impacting the caregivers’ ability to save for their own retirements. The 2016 Safeguarding Our Seniors Study expanded on a previous Allianz Life elder financial abuse study by surveying 1,000 active and potential caregivers.
The study found that the average caregiver spends more than $7,000 per year and provides more than 10 hours per week in noncash support (driving to appointments, delivering meals, social engagement, etc.). Less than half of current caregivers receive some form of financial assistance for that support.
Caregivers for past victims reported spending nearly $8,400 annually in direct cash and noncash support, higher than the roughly $5,400 spent by those caring for elders with no history of financial abuse. Furthermore, in cases where the elder is a past victim, the need for those elders to receive some sort of direct financial assistance from their caregiver is more than double that of situations where financial abuse has not occurred.
Seventy percent of caregivers talk to their elder about financial abuse and scams, but many feel these discussions are challenging. As a result, they are hesitant to have frequent conversations. Because they may feel it’s none of their business, that the elder is capable of managing their own finances, it makes the elder uncomfortable or otherwise.
The majority of active and potential caregivers agree that a professional third party could help make these conversations easier, especially if past elder financial abuse has occurred. More than three-quarters of people caring for past financial abuse victims would welcome the assistance of third-party professionals versus 43 percent in cases where the elder was not a victim.
“We continue to advocate the involvement of a third party in financial management – another family member or experienced financial professional – as a simple first step in building a system of checks and balances that can help prevent financial exploitation before it starts,” said Allianz CEO Walter White.
Two-thirds of active caregivers said the cost of providing care is having a significant effect on their finances. A full review of the findings and insights on solutions from Allianz is at: www.allianzlife.com/sos.