Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions


Index of documents > Reports and communications > Santander 09

The actual situation leads us to think about a problem, which is the Economic discrimination of the elderly.

Every attack, omission or abuse of anything related with the elderly will be considered as discrimination.

Economic abuse: It’s a financial mistreatment or fiduciary, economical or material abuse. (Hafemeister. 2003)
Another way to express that concept, referring to Stein (1991) in a short and more understandable way is as follows:

“The unauthorized and inappropriate use of funds, properties or other financial resources of a senior citizen.”

Senior citizens are traditionally considered to be people who live with a high risk of receiving this kina of mistreatment. In case of the elderly this mistreatment includes things like the appropriation or misuse of their properties or money, or even making them sign documents, for example a testament.


We make the following classification:

  1. Government actions
  2. Actions based on the social environment.
    1. Direct heirs.
    2. Second or third degree relatives
    3. Senior citizens’ personal assistants.
  3. Actions generated by certain institutions:
    1. Credit institutions.
    2. Companies.
  1. Government actions:


The economical independence of senior citizens is a constitutional right (art. 50) which is invoked and confirmed within the whole legislation, specially in that of the autonomous regions.

The economical support of senior citizens, which will give them economic independence and will improve their quality of life, is to be achieved by the following means:

      1. Contributing pensions.
      2. Non-contributing pensions.
      3. Complementary economical contributions and tax benefits.

We won’t study this part, because it has already been the centre of very deep studies on former occasions, and the only thing we’d do is to repeat the idea in different approaches.

Referring to the economical discrimination, the government seems to be guilty. We consider it to be our enemy regarding to certain aspects or questions, and we can be sure  that it’s the cause of the problem, but, only partially.
We must never forget that the aim of legislator is to ensure the economic independence of senior citizens. The non-existence of this aim in legislation represents a discrimination against the senior citizen.

  1. Actions based of the social environment.


However, it’s important to analyse other reasons that cause discrimination. We refer to people with the closest relation to the elderly, which are their assistants or relatives.
We must mention some experiences we lived during our work period.

Example: A client of my branch was threatened with a knife.

  1. 60% of aggressors were adult sons of the victim, according to the information given by their relatives.
  2. In other cases, they were second or third degree relatives.
  3. They were no relatives but had some links with them, for example their assistants.


Many times we heard the following:

      1. Her/his son withdrew all the money from the bank and changed the conditions so the pension is being paid to their grandchildren.
      2. Her/his son robbed all the money or properties.
      3. Additionally, she was threatened by a teenage gang of the neighbourhood,
      4. Their personal assistant robbed them all the money.


Protchard’s study (2003) was issued according to the experiences of two groups that assisted people who had lived in mistreatment or that escaped from it. Their study shows that economical abuse can lead to depression, mistrust and a lost of self-esteem. Additionally, losses resulting from this kind of mistreatment can have a significant impact over the senior citizen’s quality of life and may limit their options. Personal belongings are really important for senior citizens, so the lack of money can affect their needs and constrain their options in long term.
Though initiating legal activities is a powerful instrument, it may not be enough because some senior citizens need advice and help to overcome this process Finding and developing these instruments is a big challenge.

  1. Actions generated by certain institutions.


c)   Credit institutions

  1. Companies.

We may think that the actual crisis has been produced by these two elements.
C.1)Although life expectancy of senior citizens increased, they will find several problems if they try to obtain a mortgage credit.
Referring to personal credits, the situation may be better, depending on the amortization period and the guarantees offered.

C.2) Referring to the Companies, we find different problems, as far as they deal with energy, communications and water.

Due to their physical conditions senior citizens don’t expose their questions to defend their rights, as they don’t feel in a dominant position. Due to their appearance they’re more likely to accept quickly and submissively whatever they are offered, even if they consider it an unfair offer, and through which Companies achieve their aims. Companies make the best of elderly weakness. So in addition to economic discriminations, this represents a psychological discrimination.
Still talking about companies we also include insurance companies which provide health services and so on.
Both sorts of companies consider senior citizens to be people of a high risk due to their age. Those who exceed 65 and specially those above 70 are requested to pay very high insurance premiums as it’s considered they’re more likely to get any kind of disease. If a senior citizen applied fir health insurance it would immediately be refused.

As we can see differences in age lead to a different attitude and quality of medical service, and this is a problem getting worse due to a lack of geriatricians both in public as in private field.


Who has not thought about life and began building a future for retirement? I’ll give some solutions that may be good for some of us, and may be not so good for others.

  1. Transfer of goods in exchange of assistance. Civil code – art. 1791 to 1799.
  2. Life annuity as an option for subsistence. – Civil code art. 1802 – 1808.
  3. Mandatory food exchange among relatives, as a private way to cover their needs facing the ageing of Spanish population: actual analysis and future trend.
  4. Reversed mortgage.


Luís Antonio Tena Orduña.