A recent nationwide survey on elder abuse and neglect in Malaysia found that approximately one in every 100 seniors have experienced financial abuse. This is far behind the other types. which are psychological abuse and neglect.

Another local study however indicated a higher occurrence of financial abuse, which is close to 5 per cent, or one in every 20.

Traditionally, financial abuse that is reported in published studies refers to theft, deception, and manipulation by those in a relationship of trust. In other words, perpetrators are often family members, including children, in-laws, and relatives. 

These figures may seem low, but we must bear in mind two things. First, elder abuse cases in general — and financial abuse in specific — are overwhelmingly under-reported.

Experts have highlighted that only one case reaches the authority for every five to 20 elder abuse cases. So, low figures of financial abuse among our seniors are not a cause to celebrate; rather, they should caution us that perhaps many are suffering in silence.

Secondly, these published figures mostly include breaches of trust perpetrated by those who are known or close to seniors. They do not take into account the current, more sophisticated scams or frauds perpetrated by unknown individuals or groups through phone calls and the internet.

This type of exploitation has rapidly increased in recent years, but unfortunately is little studied and…

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