Monday, September 12, 2016

Financial Abuse and Older Adult Trust (Research, Video 2:36)

Are there people you really trust? Who are they, and why do you trust them? When mutual trust is achieved successfully in relationships, the experience can be beautiful and very beneficial to well-being. Unfortunately, knowing whom, when, and why to trust can be very difficult nowadays for anyone, especially older adults. Too often, their trust in social relationships goes unreciprocated and becomes exploitive.

Experts say older adult financial abuse will be the crime of the 21st century. Trust will play a major role. This became evident in a repeated trust game involving older adult financial abuse and including young adults investing real money with people they trusted at various levels (close, neutral, distant). Older adults were more likely than young adults to invest with all trustees. Older adults correlated higher intelligence with larger financial investments with the most trustworthy trustees. Better subjective financial untrustworthy well-being was associated with increased investing in the most untrustworthy trustees. Clearly, this presents potential dangers for older adults in the area of finance.

Are there ways for professionals who work with older adults, such as attorneys, law enforcement officials, and people who work at financial institutions to determine those at risk for being victims? 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 that purpose. This person-centered 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. The professionals would 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.

The National Adult Protective Services Organization website is a resource to help protect older adults from financial abuse while still allowing them their dignity. This website explains many common scams that are financially abusive to this population. Scammers include strangers, professionals, friends, and family members. Advice on the effects of financial exploitation and ways to address the abuse are also shared.

The rate of financial exploitation of the elderly is extremely high with millions indicating some form of perceived financial mistreatment occurring in the recent past. Dr. Natalia Tapia, Assistant Professor of Justice, Law and Public Safety Studies at Lewis University located in Midwest America, defines and discusses common forms of older adult financial abuse in this video: 

Frances Shani Parker, Author
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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