Professional Tool Assesses Risk for Financial Abuse

As the older population continues to swell at an unprecedented rate, protecting seniors from abuse is becoming a central concern for families and loved ones as well as professionals.   According to research from Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology, 1 in 20 older Americans is a victim of financial fraud or exploitation, frequently at the hands of someone they know and trust such as a relative or caregiver.  

Director of the Institute, Peter Lichtenberg has developed a tool that helps fight financial exploitation with an assessment that identifies older adults who are at risk for scams, fraud or abuse while protecting the rights of seniors who are able to make their own financial decisions.   The Financial Decision Tracker is a scale that can be used by financial service professionals, bank personnel, lawyers, law enforcement or adult protective services.  The screening tool helps reveal if an older adult may be vulnerable to fraud or is able to make sound financial decisions. 

Lichtenberg’s website Older Adult Nest Egg is designed to help professionals dealing with older adults and help protect them from fraud, identity theft and scams.   On average, seniors who are victims of financial exploitation lose between $80,000 and $186,000.  But by using tools designed to assess financial decision making and vulnerability, professionals can help protect older adults from exploitation.  

As longevity increases, older adults are living into very old age when there is an increased risk for Alzheimer’s Disease.  Although AD is not a normal part of aging, the risk for developing Alzheimer’s doubles approximately every 5 years after the age of 65.  By 2050, the number of people with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple, rising to 135 million people worldwide.  

Learn more about assessing financial decision making among older adults by following this link to a webinar featuring Dr. Lichtenberg in partnership with the National Adult Protective Services Association.