Older adults with extreme depression symptoms and low social status fulfillment are at greater risk for financial exploitation, according to new data.
Researchers analyzed data from a representative US sample of 4,461 respondents from the 2002 Health and Retirement Study regular survey and a 2008 Participant Lifestyle Leave Behind Questionnaire. Respondents were 61.9% female, 85.4% white and their mean age was 65.8 years. A majority (70.6%) reported having partners.
Peter A. Lichtenberg
Financial fraud, including identity theft, fake home repairs and telemarketing scams, in the overall sample was 4.5% with 52.7% of respondents reporting satisfaction with their finances. The most significant prevalence of fraud (14%) was observed among older adults with the highest depression and lowest social-needs fulfillment, compared with the rest of the sample (4.1%; chi-square test=20.49; P<.001).
“The combination … was associated with a 226% increase in fraud prevalence,” researcher Peter A. Lichtenberg, PhD, director of Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology, said in a press release.
The researchers recommended that assessing the risk for financial exploitation should be part of a clinician’s toolkit when working with highly vulnerable older adults.