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Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America
detecting and establishing the occurrence of financial abuse; what role the intent of the alleged perpetrator should play; discerning the existence, relevance, and impact of the tacit acknowledgment and consent of the elder person; and whether, particularly for smaller financial amounts, a pattern of abuse is required or a single incident will suffice to establish abuse.
The following questions also need specific empirical examination. What is the prevalence of financial abuse of the elderly? Because it is under-reported and difficult to detect, it is difficult to mobilize public interest in this issue without this baseline information. What is the impact of financial abuse on the elderly? For example, does it typically result in financial devastation and a loss of independence? What impact does it have on the health of the elder victims? What is its psychological impact, both short-term and long-term? In a world of limited resources, does financial abuse justify the same level of scrutiny or intervention as do other forms of elder abuse? What other forms of elder abuse co-occur with financial abuse and to what extent? Are reports of other types of elder abuse likely to address most instances of financial abuse? If financial abuse is a distinct phenomenon, it may need separate and distinct responses.
What types of financial abuse are most common? What are the characteristics of the victims? For example, are they socially isolated, where do they live, how old are they, what is their financial status, what is their cognitive state, what is their family history/status, and what is their ethnicity? Similarly, what are the characteristics of the perpetrators? For example, what are their motivations and how many are close family members, acquaintances, or caregivers of the elder person? What factors lead to financial abuse? For example, what is the nature of the interaction between victim and perpetrator and what risk factors associated with this interaction can be identified? What decreases the likelihood of abuse? For example, when do close family bonds buffer against financial abuse? What variations are associated with the cultural context in which the elderly person lives, and is it possible to develop objective standards that apply appropriately to all cultural groups? Such information is a prerequisite for developing and targeting interventions.
What are the barriers to detecting financial abuse of the elderly? What are indicators that family and professionals can watch for that suggest financial abuse may be occurring? What are the best ways to identify financial abuse? What are elder persons’ perceptions of what constitutes financial abuse and how do they correspond with various professionals’ perceptions? How effective are reporting requirements? Does mandatory reporting result in different rates of identification than voluntary reporting? Do the various means of responding to financial abuse serve as deterrents for future financial abuse? Do these various means adequately meet the needs of elder victims? Which venue is most effective in responding to the