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When Grandpa Gave Away the Farm: His Own Darn Fault, or a Case of Elder Abuse?

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2020
4 pages

This article presents cognitive capacity assessment tools that can help identify seniors at risk of financial exploitation, and that equip law enforcement and service providers to intervene.


Older adults can become more susceptible to financial abuse as their cognitive capacity declines. A significant barrier to identification of such abuse has been difficulty distinguishing their authentic financial decision-making from incidents of manipulation by others. To help separate cases of abuse from the exercise of seniors' actual judgment, researchers are crafting social science tools to quantify an individual's capacity for financial judgment. This article summarizes a National Institute of Justice-sponsored study that has refined and evaluated three tools developed to measure seniors' financial judgment. Those tools are a financial decision rating scale, a financial decision screening scale, and a rating scale for friends and family members.

Date Published: April 1, 2020