reports in 1993 and 1994 (National Center on Elder Abuse, 2000; Zimka, 1997). A subsequent more comprehensive study conducted by the same entity found that 18.6 percent of the 115,110 substantiated elder abuse reports submitted to APS agencies nationwide in 1996—which included reports of self-neglect—and were reports of financial or material exploitation (National Center on Elder Abuse, 1998). Excluding reports of self-neglect, this exploitation appeared in 30.2 percent of the substantiated reports. This represented the third largest category of reports, less than neglect (48.7 percent) and emotional or psychological abuse (35.41 percent), but more than physical abuse (25.6 percent).14 A national survey in Canada found that financial abuse was the most common type of elder abuse in that country (Podnieks, 1992).15

Some parts of the country report an even greater prevalence of financial abuse.16 Financial exploitation has been reported to be the most frequent form of perpetrator-related elder abuse in Illinois (Neale et al., 1996) and Oregon (U.S. Congress, 2000). It has been asserted that half of all abuse cases in New York state include financial exploitation and that in New York City 63 percent of abuse cases involve finances (New York State Department of Law, 2000). A study of APS reports in upstate New York between 1992 and 1997 that led to state intervention found that financial exploitation was present in 38.4 percent of the cases (Choi and Mayer, 2000). A study in Massachusetts found that almost one-half of the cases of elder abuse serious enough to require reporting to a district attorney involved financial exploitation (Dessin, 2000). A review of California reports from 1987 found that fiduciary abuse was the most prevalent type of exploitation and appeared in 41.5 percent of the cases, with the next most prevalent type of exploitation being physical abuse, which appeared in 33.3 percent of the cases (County Welfare Directors Association, 1988). In their review of older studies, Wilber and Reynolds (1996) determined that between 33 percent and 53 percent of an estimated 1 million elder abuse victims experienced financial abuse.

Financial abuse has also been reported to be greater among various minority populations. For example, exploitation was found to be the most commonly reported abuse in samples of Korean immigrant and black elders


More than one substantiated type of abuse could be reported for an incident. The study did not, however, provide specific information about this overlap (e.g., how often financial abuse occurred in conjunction with another form of elder abuse).


A British Columbia study is reported to have found that 8 percent of older adults had been financially abused, with an average loss of $20,000 each (National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001).


The variation in rates among states may be attributed in part to differing definitions and assessments of financial abuse (Lavrisha, 1997).

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