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Vancity Credit Union unveils new senior financial abuse survey

File photo. Of those polled, more than a third of seniors that have experienced financial abuse don't tell anybody. The Canadian Press

According to a report by Vancity Credit Union titled ‘Suffering in Silence: The financial abuse of seniors in British Columbia’, more than one third of seniors surveyed said they are victims of financial abuse they won’t tell anyone about it.

Vancity Community Investment Manager Catherine Ludgate says 15 per cent of those said they were embarrassed by being ripped off by family members, and ten per cent feared it would make the situation worse.

“It both comes from adult children who don’t live with their parents, and from families that live together intergenerationally. It’s the same no matter the living situations.”

She adds she doesn’t know why their family members feel such a sense of entitlement that they can take advantage of them.

“We’re certainly seeing an emerging trend where seniors are being forced to make decisions about their real estate [and] their legacy assets before they’re ready to, and that may be a result of pressures in the housing market.”
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Ludgate adds many feel vulnerable.

“If a senior’s relying on their adult children for care, their adult children may be providing their transportation to the and from bank or to and from the doctor’s office. And so seniors may not want to report because they’re embarrassed it’s happened to them, and they may not know who to tell.”

“Eighty per cent of people said they couldn’t name a single service,” she said, “and even if they could name it, they didn’t know where to go.”

One recommendation the report makes is to provide “more funding for seniors organizations that develop tools for combating abuse and programs to support victims.”

The 2017 online poll surveyed 400 seniors 65 years or older across Metro Vancouver and the Capital Regional District, with a margin of error of 4.9 per cent, with a 95 per cent confidence level.

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This isn’t the first time Vancity has raised the issue of financial abuse.

READ MORE: Vancity's 2014 senior financial abuse report

The 2017 poll included the same questions used in Vancity’s 2014 report.

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