The Banking Industry and Financial Elder Abuse

senior-walletA recent study that appeared in the latest edition of the Public Policy & Aging Report (PP&AR)—a publication of the National Academy on an Aging Society—has concluded that major financial institutions, like banks and insurance companies, can do much more to help prevent senior financial abuse.

In its coverage of the new study, ConsumerAffairs.com reports that both the financial abuse of seniors, as well as cognitive decline in the elderly, cause a negative and serious impact on the economy. Inaction on the part of banks and insurance companies, the study concludes, poses a serious threat to the health of the U.S. financial sector. According to Editor-in-Chief of PP&AR Robert Hudson, the problems of senior financial abuse and age-related impairment are “assuming remarkably large personal, monetary, and social dimensions. Elder abuse involves millions of individuals and billions of dollars. It damages health, harms wellbeing, and arguably costs lives.”

A different set of findings, authored by The MetLife Study of Elder Financial Abuse, estimates the monetary loses that result from senior abuse—as documented in 2010 alone—could amount to a staggering figure of at least $2.9 billion dollars. “Ironically, the age group that has amassed the most wealth over the longest period of accumulation is simultaneously at the greatest risk of financial self-impoverishment and exploitation by others,” Daniel Marson of PP&AR commented.

So what can financial institutions do to safeguard against senior financial abuse or age-related cognitive impairment? The PP&AR study suggests a few possible options for the future, including the development of predictive algorithms aimed to detect diminished mental capacity in elderly banking clients. Dr. Peter Lichenteberg, of Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology, and his team has been developing technology that could aid financial institutions in detecting age-related financial abuses. According to an article by Dr. Peter Lichtenberg, “there is a need for real-time assessments and interventions if financial exploitation and decisions made by older incapacitated persons are to be curbed.”

The PP&AR study’s authors also agree that the banking industry must build strategies to recognize elderly mental impairment or decline as they develop, like instituting proactive financial planning programs for seniors. The PP&AR study contends that timely assessments and detection could help limit financial exploitation in the elderly community, as well as, address mental decline in the aging population.

Both financial abuse by others, as well as age-related cognitive decline, pose a grave threat to the elderly. Not only can financial exploitation of an elderly individual result in crippling monetary losses, the resulting stress and budgetary strain can significantly impact mental and physical health. By developing strategies to combat financial elder abuse and impaired financial decision-making, banks and insurance companies not only protect their elderly consumers’ wellbeing, but they also support a healthier economic climate overall.

If you are concerned that a friend, family member, or loved one has been suffering from financial elder abuse, contact an experienced California elder abuse lawyer to evaluate your case and advise you on your next steps. Award winning San Diego Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer, Christopher Walton, has built a reputation for providing compassionate and strong advocacy for victims of elder abuse and their families. Call (866) 338-7079 for a confidential consultation.