GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - A new study conducted by Allianz Life details how and why financial abuse of the elderly may be worse than previously thought.

The “2016 Safeguarding Our Seniors Study” surveyed 1,000 active and potential caregivers. Researchers focused on family and friends in active elder caregiving roles, or those who could be soon. Of those caregivers, 37-percent say seniors experienced financial abuse or exploitation with a loss and that the abuse happened more than once.

On average targeted seniors lost an estimated $36,000 dollars, 20 percent higher than in a 2014 study. Research also shows elders with mental decline are at a greater risk for financial abuse. Nearly 45% of active caregivers say aging adults in their care show signs of dementia or a decline in mental abilities.

Allianz Life partners with community organizations to deploy employee volunteers to raise awareness of elder financial abuse.

Here are some financial abuse prevention suggestions for seniors/caregivers/families:

  • Plan ahead to protect your assets & ensure that your wishes are followed
  • Consult with a qualified financial professional or attorney before signing complex agreements
  • Build relationships with professionals who are involved with your finances
  • Limit your use of cash, using checks & credit cards to leave a paper trail
  • Trust your instincts and feel free to say “no”. Remember, it’s your money

For more on the study and tips for avoiding financial abuse of the elderly, log on to the Allianz website.