It is hard to ascertain the exact number of people affected by financial exploitation because studies show that elder abuse is underreported. However, one study found that monetary loss from financial elder abuse could be close to $3 billion a year.
Experts have found that there are certain risk factors that can help indicate when someone is more likely to fall prey to a financial scam. Peter Lichtenberg, director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University, found that older adults’ physical and mental health, along with their family and friend network, help predict their financial vulnerability.
Lichtenberg has created a website (www.olderadultnestegg.com) with resources for professionals, older adults, and family members to assess whether someone is at-risk. He provides trainings for caregivers on how to determine if a loved one is experiencing cognitive decline and how to spot financial mismanagement. The website also includes a financial vulnerability survey that assesses a person’s risk of exploitation by asking 17 targeted questions. At the end of the survey, participants get a low, moderate, or high risk assessment. There are also resources to direct older adults and caregivers on how to get help.
To take the survey and see the resources, click here.
For tips on preventing, detecting, and reporting financial abuse, click here.