Financial exploitation is a public health issue

Financial exploitation is a public health issue Financial exploitation is a public health issue

The article 'How Criminals Steal $37 Billion a Year from America’s Elderly' states that “elder abuse victims—including those who suffer financial exploitation—die at a rate three times faster than those who haven’t been abused.” The scale of this issue combined with the severity of resulting adverse effects makes financial exploitation of older people a public health issue in need of attention.

The conniving nature of scam artists is their ability to deceive their targets. Financial scams rely on numerous ageist assumptions, including the belief that older people are more vulnerable, isolated, and less mentally sharp than their younger, more savvy counterparts. As a result, older people are unduly targeted in financial scams that seek to deplete their financial resources. For an expert opinion on the prevention of elder abuse, contact Dr. Pamela B. Teaster through the IFA Expert Center.

It is incorrect to assume that ageing and cognitive impairment go hand in hand – they don’t. However, when an older person does have cognitive impairment, it can make matters more complicated in financial exploitation cases based on the possibility that impairment has led to diminished capability to assess the situation. Prof. John Starr of Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre is an expert in cognitive health who can speak to the relationship between cognitive impairment and financial exploitation.

The International Federation on Ageing (IFA) advocates for a world where the health, rights, and choices of older people are protected and respected. Financial exploitation is carried out daily by employees of financial institutions, phone or internet scammers, and by family members and friends. Be reminded that ageism is persistent and further action needs to be taken to counter financial exploitation, other forms of abuse, and to support the health and functional ability of older people.