New Study Suggests Psychological Vulnerability Plays a Role in Financial Elder Abuse

Elder abuse is a broad term that includes physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and financial abuse. Financial abuse of elders is on the rise according to the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. Moreover, instances of financial abuse of the elderly are expected to increase as the number of seniors in our nation increases.
But why is financial abuse becoming more common? And why do elders seem more at risk for financial exploitation than other segments of the population? These were questions, that researchers at Wayne State University collaborating with the Illinois Institute of Technology wished to answer, and the result is a recent study entitled “Is Psychological Vulnerability Related to the Experience of Fraud in Older Adults?”

The study was published in a recent issue of Clinical Gerontologist, and was the first study to include prospective predictors of reported financial fraud victimization of older adults, and is the first to review financial exploitation of any kind with the same population from a psychological-vulnerability perspective, according to a press release issued by Wayne State University.

Peter Lichtenberg, Ph.D., director of WSU’s Institute of Gerontology and lead author of the paper said “Those in the clinical study showed characteristics of extreme depression symptoms and perceived low social-status fulfillment, thus showing they were more vulnerable to the experience of theft of scams.”

The study included more than 4,000 participants. Those who were deemed the most psychologically vulnerable (highest levels of depression and lowest levels of social-needs fulfillment) experienced higher levels of fraud compared to those that were not vulnerable psychologically.

“One of the most significant findings of our study was with the most psychologically vulnerable population,” said Lichtenberg. “The combination of high depression and low social-status fulfillment was associated with a 226 percent increase in fraud prevalence in this population. This supports our theory that depressive symptoms and lack of social-needs fulfillment have an effect on fraud prediction, and serves as a reminder to clinical gerontologists how psychological vulnerability can affect older adults’ lives in a variety of ways.”

California elder abuse attorneys are increasingly being called upon to litigate claims relating to financial elder abuse. Financial elder abuse law in California has changed significantly over the past several years. The law has changed over time to broaden the definition of financial elder abuse and to strengthen the legal system’s position against those who set out to take advantage of the elderly.

If you know or suspect someone is the victim of financial elder abuse, an experienced California elder abuse attorney can help. Financial abuse victims are entitled to various compensatory damages under California law, including attorney’s fees and costs. Christopher Walton has successfully handled numerous elder abuse cases in San Diego and throughout California, helping an underserved population halt the cycle of abuse. Mr. Walton is dedicated to defending the rights of elder abuse victims and ensuring they receive the compensation they deserve. Call (866) 338-7079 for a confidential consultation.