“cycle of violence” that forms a foundation for the spouse abuse model may have limited applicability to the financial abuse of the elderly.

While a spouse abuse model may be appropriate when addressing the physical abuse of the elderly, as well as a subset of financial abuse cases when physical violence and financial abuse coexist, the spouse abuse model (like the child abuse model) does not appear to provide a comprehensive explanatory model for financial abuse of the elderly.33 A more eclectic approach that focuses on the relatively unique aspects of financial abuse of the elderly may be more appropriate. Among the specific factors that such an approach might encompass are the intergenerational nature of this abuse and tensions likely to occur across generations; the impact of financial dependence on these tensions; whether and when physical abuse and violence tend to accompany financial abuse and their impact; the nature and impact of more subtle forms of influence than violence; whether elder victims of financial abuse perceive the perpetrators of this abuse differently than perpetrators of physical abuse; and whether financial abuse is more likely to reflect mismanagment, financial need, or greed rather than a desire for power and control and the influence they exert on the manifestations of financial abuse. At the same time, such a model (and accompanying research) should also attend to the potential influence of factors typically associated with spouse abuse models such as the impact of power and control on financial abuse, victims’ incorporation of internalized messages that they are to blame for this abuse, victims’ fear of retaliation if they disclose their abuse, and social contexts that may lead an elder person to fear disruption of the status quo (Vinton, 1999).


Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have enacted statutes that mandate the reporting of elder abuse by certain individuals, with the other states providing for the voluntary reporting of such abuse (Stiegel, personal communication, October 2001).34 Although virtually all states specifically mention financial abuse in their reporting statutes (Moskowitz, 1998b; Roby and Sullivan, 2000), they often do not establish special procedures for the reporting and subsequent processing of reports of financial


Indeed, the American Medical Association’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs has asserted that spouse abuse differs from elder abuse (and child abuse) in opposing mandatory reporting of spouse abuse by physicians (Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, 1992).


Reporting is voluntary in Colorado, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin (Brandl and Meuer, 2000).

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