In the Journals

Psychological vulnerability increased risk for financial exploitation

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.

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.