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Resolving Financial Exploitation Before It’s Too Late

Worried upset older woman sit at table with laptop, counts expenses, manage budget, check bills for payment, thinks on financial problems, looks stressed due to lack of money, huge monthly fee concept

Kathleen is an 80-year-old woman who was referred to the Aging and Disability Services (ADS) Elder Abuse Case Management Program after leaving an abusive relationship. She had been living with her former partner, Carl, and moved across the county to flee the abuse. When Kathleen left, she pursued, and was granted, a protection order against Carl. As she settled into her new city and home, ADS was contacted to assist her with connecting to local resources and support.  

Did you know that financial exploitation is one of the most common forms of elder abuse? Click on the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Toolkit image to learn more.

As her case manager, I assisted Kathleen with safety planning, including reporting any violations of the protection order to local law enforcement. I also helped her connect to a primary care provider in her new city, apply for state benefits, and made sure she had a reliable phone service so she could stay safe and call law enforcement when necessary. 

Months after first being referred to ADS, Kathleen told me that she wanted to sell her home. She shared that she no longer wanted to manage the HOA fees and property taxes for her condo and would prefer to rent in the future. I learned that she had already had conversations with a real estate agent and there was a potential buyer. Kathleen consented for me to speak with the agent, who shared that there was a lien on the condo and that Carl, her former partner, was also on the deed. The home would be put up for auction in less than two weeks if Kathleen did not sell. This was news to Kathleen, who was not only unaware of the pending foreclosure but also reported that Carl had never contributed financially and had never lived in this home. 

With Kathleen’s consent, ADS was able to hire a daily money manager to look more closely at her finances and help her make a plan for her condo. Randy, the daily money manager, quickly began gathering financial information and reviewing it with Kathleen. In addition to confirming Carl’s name was on the deed of the home, Randy also noticed cash withdrawals from Kathleen’s account that were not consistent with her typical spending habits. We learned that Carl was going to Kathleen’s home and intimidating her into giving him money. This contact with her was a violation of the protection order. I assisted Kathleen with reporting the violations to law enforcement. 

Knowing that Kathleen had the support of a daily money manager to help with managing future payments of her HOA and property tax fees, Kathleen decided she wanted to take the steps to stop the foreclosure and stay in her home. The sale date was approaching quickly but Randy was able to connect with the HOA regarding the lien and start working toward helping Kathleen keep her home.

Given the complicated nature of Kathleen’s situation and the financial exploitation by her former partner, I referred her case to the King County Elder Abuse Multidisciplinary (MDT) team. The MDT comprises multiple agencies, including ADS, Adult Protective Services, geriatric medicine professionals and law enforcement. Staffing a case with the MDT helps to get the perspective of multiple professionals across disciplines. 

When discussing Kathleen’s case with the MDT, it was suggested to refer her to Northwest Justice Project for guidance with the pending foreclosure. A Northwest Justice Project attorney worked with Kathleen’s HOA to postpone the foreclosure. This gave the attorney and daily money manager Randy enough time to gather necessary financial documents and help Kathleen apply for a grant that could help save her home from foreclosure.

Kathleen’s grant application was successful in applying for the grant. She was awarded sufficient funds to pay the judgement to the HOA and stop the foreclosure. 

Kathleen is currently living in her condo and continues to receive support from a daily money manager and ADS case management services. 

Contributor Alexis James is one of two Aging and Disability Services case managers who specialize in supporting older people who are experiencing abuse, neglect, and exploitation. They work closely with medics, fire fighters, police, and the county prosecuting attorney’s office to improve health outcomes for vulnerable adults.

How to Report Elder Abuse

Neglect and physical, sexual, mental, and financial abuse are not always obvious. Learn the signs of elder abuse. Watch for signs of abuse. Talk with the older adult.

If you suspect that a crime against a vulnerable adult is occurring or has occurred, you should do two things:

  • Report the crime to the police by calling 911; and
  • Report the abuse to the Washington State Department of Health and Human Services:

Phone: 1-877-734-6277


TTY: 1-833-866-5595

Website: Report Concerns Involving Vulnerable Adults (DSHS)





Posted in Elder Abuse