Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lichtenberg Rating Scale Protects Older Adult Finances (Research, Embezzlement Video 1:53)

One out of every 20 older adults in America will be a victim of financial exploitation this year. They will come from varied social positions, geographic locations, occupations, races, and nationalities. You or someone you know could be a victim. You may also know the perpetrator of the crime. Perpetrators of embezzlement, which is theft or misappropriation of funds placed in one's trust, are often relatives and friends you know and trust.

This heart wrenching topic brings to mind an important question that should be considered: What can others do to assist older adults in making good decisions for protection against financial abuse? With our quickly aging population, financial exploitation of vulnerable older adults has become a profitable and easy way for many to make money. Horror stories about stolen identities, looted bank accounts, and transferred property ownership abound. The devastation left behind is sometimes insurmountable.

Is there a way to protect older adults from this travesty while still allowing them their dignity during the process? Dr. Peter Lichtenberg, Director of the Institute of Gerontology at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, is creating the Lichtenberg Financial Decision-Making Rating Scale for just that purpose. This assessment will determine whether older adults are at risk for being victims of financial abuse and their ability to manage their money and other assets.  He hopes to be able to pilot the 61-question assessment by the end of the year. The assessment and a more general 10-question screening exam would be used by professionals who work with older adults such as attorneys, law enforcement officials, and people who work at financial institutions. They would be in positions to determine whether those surveyed are experiencing undue outside influence and whether they are competent in making good financial decisions. With this knowledge, they can better protect those most at risk for being exploited.

Last Will and Embezzlement is a groundbreaking documentary film that is on national tour. Produced by Pamela Glasner, whose brother was victimized by embezzlement, the movie raises awareness about financial exploitation of older adults. The movie stars Hollywood icon Mickey Rooney sharing his firsthand account of being victimized. The following movie trailer gives a brief summary of the documentary and the magnitude of this problem.

Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

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