Viewpoint—Suffering in Silence

This article addresses the financial abuse of seniors in British Columbia.


A Vancity survey, conducted by the Mustel Group of people aged 65 or older in Metro Vancouver and the Capital Regional District reveals that:

  1. More than one-third (35 %) of seniors who experience at least one type of financial abuse choose not to tell anyone.
  2. One-fifth (21 %) of seniors who experienced financial abuse and did not report it said it was because they didn’t know who to tell.

Of those respondents who say they did not report incidences of abuse 15 % were embarrassed by the situation, and 10% feared it would make the situation worse or result in retaliation.

More than 80% of survey respondents could not name any support services available for seniors who may be victims of financial abuse.

There is a large gap between unprompted reports of financial abuse (3%) and reported abuse when respondents are presented with specific scenarios (36%), indicating that many seniors may not understand how they may be victims. A Canadian national study revealed that in situations of financial abuse the perpetrator was an adult child or graduated in 37% on incidents.

Multiple studies indicate that seniors are often afraid to report abuse, particularly if they are living with their abuser and/or are dependent on them for help with financial or other day-to-day matters.

Senior First BC indicates there were 4,684 incidences of financial abuse reported to the Seniors Abuse and Information Line from 2013 to 2017. The top ten forms of financial abuse were:

Exploiting affected adult (for shelter or money)

  • Pressuring (to lend, give a gift, or change will)
  • Misuse of the power of attorney
  • Real estate
  • Questionable business transaction
  • Misuse of bank or credit card
  • Misuse of a joint bank account
  • Theft
  • Cashing pension or other cheques without authorization
  • Skimming

Recommendations in the Vancity report include helping seniors manage their finances securely, financial institutions providing support specifically designed for senior members/customers and governments providing more funding for seniors organizations that combat abuse.


Note: excerpts re-published with the permission of Vancity. Vancity is a values-based financial co-operative serving the needs of its more than 523,000 member-owners and their communities in the Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw territories, with 59 branches in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria, Squamish and Alert Bay.