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Alzheimer’s Patients Especially Susceptible to Financial Abuse

by on February 20, 2015

The critically-acclaimed film “Still Alice,” which details the mental decline of a 50-year old Columbia University professor with Alzheimer’s, deftly conveys the heart-wrenching inevitabilities of the disease. The character played by Julianne Moore is slowly swallowed up by her own forgetfulness, to the dismay of her family and closest friends.

The movie offers an excellent platform to explore the myriad financial concerns that relatives must address when faced with a mother, father or sibling with Alzheimer’s disease.  In this case, Moore’s character is comparatively affluent, and the family is able to put aside their differences and ensure she has the best care possible as her cognitive abilities diminish. But others in this precarious state of slow-approaching dementia aren’t so fortunate, and are taken advantage of by caregivers, family members, or even strangers.

Financial abuse of the elderly with Alzheimer’s

Individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, particularly those who are alone and have few friends or family, may be most susceptible to financial abuse.

This form of abuse can take many forms, including:

  • Stealing money or property through illegal means
  • Using the victim’s property or possessions without permission
  • Coercing an elder to sign over a deed or will using deception
  • Credit card scams
  • Forging signatures for financial benefit

The perpetrators run the gamut from family members to paid caregivers in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Unscrupulous health care practitioners, salespersons, contractors or people posing as such may use their positions to gain trust and compliance with their victim.

Spending lots of time with a new, younger “friend,” or a long lost relative suddenly moving in the home are both warning signs of potential financial abuse. The best way to prevent such exploitation is to be aware of red flags and monitor the elder’s behavior and general demeanor during regular visits.

Those with disabilities such as Alzheimer’s disease are particularly vulnerable to financial abuse. Since they can be wholly dependent on others for help, they are easy targets for fraud.

Throughout the state of Arizona, tales of greed and filial neglect have filled the courtrooms, illuminating the consequences of elder financial abuse, which is grounds for immediate civil action.

Speak with an Arizona elder abuse lawyer

Here at Wattel & York, we consider elder abuse – whether financial, psychological or physical – to be the ultimate betrayal of our most defenseless population. If you suspect something is amiss, perhaps unexplained bank account withdrawals or missing canceled checks, you are encouraged to report your findings to the authorities and speak with a Phoenix elder abuse lawyer as soon as possible.

Our attorneys have been helping elder abuse victims in the greater Phoenix area for more than 20 years, and offer confidential case evaluations to prospective clients. To schedule a consultation, please call 1-877-333-9545 today.


  1. New York Times, In Alzheimer’s Cases, Financial Ruin and Abuse Are Always Lurking
  2. National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, Financial Abuse

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