of factors have been identified as likely to prevent financial abuse of the elderly, although this identification is generally derived from personal experience rather than from empirical investigation. A variety of approaches for identifying or preventing financial abuse have also been proposed or implemented, although little systematic evaluation has been conducted of their effectiveness. These approaches can be organized according to the individuals charged with preventing this abuse.
The first set of preventive approaches addresses steps elder persons and family members and friends of the elderly should take. Many advocates argue that the best measure is to prevent isolation by helping the elder person to stay in close contact with multiple friends and relatives (Hoban, 2000; National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001; Podnieks, 1992; Quinn, 2000; Wilber and Reynolds, 1996; Zimka, 1997). Although, as noted, family members have been identified as the most likely perpetrators of financial abuse of the elderly, anecdotal accounts suggest that such abuse is not the result of a conspiracy among a number of relatives, but rather represents the actions of a single family member who has isolated the elder person from other family members or friends. Greater involvement of family members and friends of the elderly person can help prevent or remedy this isolation. Such isolation, it has been argued, can also be avoided by encouraging or helping the elderly person to be active in community affairs, senior centers, or religious or charitable organizations (Hoban, 2000; National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001; Zimka, 1997). Advocates also emphasize the importance of educating the elderly to recognize financial victimization (Coker and Little, 1997; Podnieks, 1992).
Another series of preventive steps addresses transactions conducted with financial institutions. Recommendations include that checks received on a regular basis be mailed directly to banks to reduce the risk of theft (Hoban, 2000; National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001; Zimka, 1997). Similarly, it has been suggested that routine bills, such as utility bills, be paid automatically from checking or savings accounts (Zimka, 1997). Arrangements might also be made that any effort to expand the number of individuals with access to an elder person’s bank account result in the notification or require the consent of a third party (National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001).
Other steps identified to prevent financial abuse include arranging for the payment of bills by a trusted friend, family member, or bill paying service (Zimka, 1997) or asking a trusted friend or family member to review all papers before they are signed (Hoban, 2000; National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, 2001). A written plan for repayment should be