Exploitation of the
Financial or material exploitation of an elder is the
illegal or improper use of an elder's property or financial resources
their consent or understanding (Wolf, 1996).
Financial abuse of the elderly tends to occur over time rather
single overt act such as a robbery, purse snatching or car jacking
Reynolds, 1996). A financial abuser does
not need to be a stranger. The financial
abuser can be a family member, a caregiver or caretaker, a professional
an accountant, lawyer, doctor or banker, or a boyfriend or girlfriend. Regardless of who the individual is that is
conducting the financial exploitation, three reasons for financial
have been identified by the Area Agency on Aging:
Since financial abuse is the
fourth most common type of elder abuse (Lewis, et al, 1999),
identifying characteristics of elder abusers may assist with addressing
problem of elder abuse and mistreatment.
Ramsey-Klausnick (2000) proposed a typology of offenders as the
following five types: 1) the overwhelmed, 2) the impaired, 3) the
4) the domineering and 5) the sadistic.
Anetzberger (2000) proposed an alternative explanation for elder
the Explanatory Model for Elder Abuse, which theorizes that elder abuse
primarily a function of the perpetrator's characteristics and
function of the victim's characteristics.
or greed - people who take advantage of elders
usually have financial problems or act out of greed.
- Opportunity - offenders often have opportunity to
elders money or property by pressuring or otherwise influencing them or
advantage of the trust, discretion or power that has been given to them.
sense of entitlement - offenders often believe that
they deserve the money or because they believe that older people in
don't really need all their money.
The prevalence of abuse, in general, among elderly is not
entirely known (Macdonald, 1997).
However, elder abuse is estimated to affect 700,000 to 1.2
adults annually in the United States.
Only ten percent of the cases of elder abuse are estimated to be
reported (Fulmer, et. al., 1984). This
in part is due to the lack of interventions developed for the
elder abuse. Most interventions that
have been reviewed or evaluated are reactive in nature (Wyandt, 2004). Three-quarters of the reported, substantiated
cases of financial abuse involve victims over the age of 75 (Lewis, et.
al.). In some cases, the elderly person is
aware of the financial abuse. In other
cases, the elderly person is aware of the exploitation but denies the
because of total dependence (at least perceived) on the perpetrator or
the elderly person feels guilty, responsible or ashamed of the
care for himself or herself and falling victim to the financial abuse.
are several factors that can contribute to an elder being financially
exploited. Because there are so many
factors that can play a part in an elderly person being financially
it is difficult to detect when the abuse will happen.
For example, an assessment could be conducted
of an elder to determine that he or she contains all the necessary
characteristics of someone who is susceptible to financial abuse. But if that person is not subjected to
someone who is or will financially exploit him or her, then he or she
be a victim of financial abuse. Therefore,
we must look at the entire framework for identifying abuse that
characteristics of the older person that suggests vulnerability to
the nature of the relationship between the suspected wrongdoer and the
person, 3) the outcomes and interests served by the relationship, and
type of influence used by the suspected wrongdoer.
In an effort to determine who might be at risk for
financial abuse as an elder, the following items need to be defined:
characteristics of an older person suggest
vulnerability to abuse?
interaction does the older person have with
others? How can wrongdoers be
the suspected wrongdoer stand to gain from the
does the elder feel about the suspected
wrongdoer? Does the suspected wrongdoer
seem to have any influence over the elder?
It is anticipated that the samples will be the
individuals who are receiving Eldercare Services through a CPA
public accountant.) Eldercare services
a wide range of services that practitioners can provide in relation to
of an individual. Eldercare services are
defined in the accounting arena as a service designed to provide
care goals are achieved for elderly no longer able to be totally
independent. In determining what
eldercare services are needed by the individual, a cpa (with the
a geriatric care manager) must assess the elder to determine what needs
The cpa, in providing these services, should also be able to locate the
professionals available to provide the needed care for the elder.
would want to determine what characteristics suggest vulnerability to
evidence of abuse. Some of the behaviors
that I would expect from someone who is being financially abused are:
withdrawn, confused or extremely forgetful, depressed, helpless, angry,
hesitant to talk freely, secretive, and frightened.
I understand that not everyone will exhibit
the same behaviors and that some of the behaviors might be a result of
factor, therefore, I would incorporate this assessment with the results
remainder of the study to arrive at an overall assessment.
There are some risk
assessment instruments for elder abuse that have been developed and
evaluated. The Hwalek-Sengstock
Elder Abuse Screening Test (H-S/EAST)
is an assessment where the researchers pooled over 1000 items from
elder abuse assessment protocols to develop a 15 item tool which
aspects of abuse: (1) violation of personal rights or direct abuse, (2)
characteristics of vulnerability, and (3) potentially abusive
was designed to be completed by older people themselves.
This measurement tool has been evaluated by
the Australian Women's Health Survey (Schofield, 1999). Two additional
were added to the original 15 item screening tool.
Then the survey group examined the
reliability and validity of the resultant instrument on a nationally
representative community-based sample of older Australian women
Their exploratory analyses led to the deletion of five of the 15 items
H-S/EAST. The remaining 12 factors were divided into four categories
labeled: vulnerability, dependence, dejection, and coercion. Further
investigation revealed that "dependence" had more to do with autonomy
than abuse and "dejection," with depression and mental health issues.
The authors suggest that responses to the six remaining items could
simple screening tool for elder abuse:
you afraid of anyone in your family?
anyone close to you tried to hurt or harm you recently?
anyone close to you called you names or put you down or made you feel
someone in your family make you stay in bed or tell you you're sick
know you aren't?
anyone forced you to do things you didn't want to do?
anyone taken things that belong to you without your OK?
of Abuse Screen (Reis & Nahmiash,
1998) is a tool that is very different from the one just described
is completed by trained professionals, usually after a 2-3 hour
assessment (filling out the form itself takes about 20 minutes). The
isolated 29 abuse indicators from a preliminary checklist of 48
problems and 12
background/demographic items that related both to the caregiver and
recipient, scored on a 5-point rating scale. The 29 items could be
into three categories:
intrapersonal problems/ issues (e.g. mental health, behavioral, and
other substance abuse difficulties);
interpersonal problems (e.g. marital and family conflict and poor
generally with the care receiver, etc.); and
receiver social support shortages and past abuse.
The strengths of
the tool include its demonstrated
reliability and validity and successful identification of 78-84% of
determining what the needs are of the elder, the cpa conducts an
the individual, including an eldercare recipient information
questionnaire. This questionnaire
contains some basic census data requests, but it also contains
relating to the financial aspect of the individual.
Analyzing the financial data of the
individual would also be an indicator of potential wrongdoing. Also, both
of the above measures would be useful in conducting this study. The Australian Women's Health Study questions
could be included on the eldercare recipient information questionnaire
the cpa in the assessment. The
Indicators of Abuse Screen could be used by the geriatric care manager
be assisting the cpa in conducting the assessment of needs of the
I believe the analysis that would be used would be
multiple regression analysis because this analysis would allow us to
model relationships in graph form and allow us to view the influence of
independent variables (characteristics, susceptibility to a wrongdoer,
the elderly person.
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