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Financial Abuse of Elderly People vs. Other Forms of Elder Abuse: Assessing Their Dynamics, Risk Factors, and Society's Response

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2011
608 pages
This study examined the financial exploitation of elderly people compared to other forms of elder maltreatment in a domestic setting, i.e., physical abuse; neglect; and combinations of financial exploitation and physical abuse and/or neglect ("hybrid" maltreatment).
Two significant conclusions were drawn from this study. First, the maltreatment of elderly persons differed by type of abuse. Second, the maltreatment of elderly persons involved an interactive relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. These conclusions have important implications for theory development that pertains to the maltreatment of elderly persons. The authors developed a theory for each type of maltreatment. Each theory aims to account for the behavior of both the elderly person and the perpetrator. These theories have not been tested, but are intended to begin the process of improving theory-based understanding of various types of elderly abuse. The study determined that the consequences of financial exploitation of the elderly were significant. Both PFE and HFE resulted in an average loss of $87,967 per elderly person. The study also found that victims and perpetrators of PFE are a more heterogeneous group compared to the elderly victims of other forms of maltreatment, making identification and intervention more challenging. This may explain why adult protective services (APS) workers indicated that financial exploitation cases are more difficult to investigate than cases of physical abuse or neglect. In addition, prosecutors are reluctant to take on cases that involve financial exploitation of the elderly, which makes it even less likely that APS workers will vigorously pursue these cases. Recommendations pertain to improved training for APS caseworkers and criminal justice officials. Using semi-structured interviews, 71 APS caseworkers in Virginia, elderly abused clients (60 years old or older), and/or a third party (someone who knew the elderly person well but was not involved in the abuse) were interviewed. Extensive references and appended research instruments

Date Published: February 1, 2011