A recent trade journal published an article citing new scientific research that suggests that older adults’ brains lose the ability to distinguish between trustworthy and untrustworthy facial appearances.
New research, published two weeks ago in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has shed light on this question. Led by UCLA professor Shelley Taylor and other researchers, the series of studies found that an area of the brain that triggers gut feelings when assessing someone’s appearance to determine his or her trustworthiness — the anterior insula —did not fire when older adults were shown photographs of suspicious-looking people.
A study published by the Metlife Mature Market Institute and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse agrees that financial exploitation of elders is rising. The study’s range of abuse includes: fraud perpetrated by strangers; financial abuse by family, friends and neighbors; exploitation within the business sector; and Medicare and Medicaid fraud. The annual financial loss was estimated to be at least $2.9 billion dollars. The most common form of financial abuse? Theft or diversion of funds by family members.
This holiday season, as we spend time with our family and loved ones, let’s consider those in our families who are older and may be more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Let’s resolve that this will not happen to them, and take some proactive steps to guard them so that their twilight years can be spent with dignity and confidence.
Source: ProducersWeb – Annuities – Seniors lean dangerously toward the bright side: Research shows older adults are too trusting
David Russell is a Senior Vice President with Pinnacle Trust, and author of the book, What You Need to Know: The Adult Child’s Guide to Becoming a Financial Caregiver. Click here to order your copy.
Last week, the Investor Protection Trust (IPT) released the results of a survey regarding the growing problem of elder financial abuse. Available online at http://www.investorprotection.org, the new IPT survey was conducted during the first 10 days of June 2012. Those surveyed include state securities regulators (76), financial planners (77 ), medical professionals (24), caregiver/social workers (93), APS workers (172), educators (56) and others (264, including other law enforcement officials and legal experts).
The vast majority of these experts (96 percent) say the problem of elderly investment fraud/financial exploitation in the U.S. is “very serious” (70 percent) or “somewhat serious (26 percent).
Other Key Findings
According to the experts, the top three reasons why elderly investment frauds go unreported are: “shame on the part of victims” (86 percent); “the ability of con artists to string victims along until it is too late” (80 percent); and “failure of adult children to spot the problem and intervene” (70 percent).
96 percent of respondents say that “potential problems with mental comprehension make seniors more vulnerable” to financial swindles “very often” or “quite often.”
80 percent of respondents say that their experience is “very” or “somewhat” consistent with “a 2008 study (that) found that about 35 percent of the 25 million people over age 71 in the U.S. either have mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease, making them especially vulnerable to financial exploitation, including investment fraud.
While elder fraud is terrible in all its forms, the sad fact is that 85-90% of all elder financial abuse is perpetrated by a family member. Family members are already in a trusted position and will sometimes use this position to take advantage of the vulnerability of an elderly relative.
It is critical that all family members as well as the medical and professional communities work together to protect the dignity and resources of this great generation.
David Russell is Senior Vice President of Pinnacle Trust, and author of the book, What You Need to Know: The Adult Child’s Guide to Being a Financial Caregiver. He frequently speaks to public and professional organizations on the topic of elder financial abuse. To book him for your organization, call 601-957-0323.
Hollywood icon, Mickey Rooney testified before Congress about the abuse he suffered from his step-son and step-daughter. Claiming the pair embezzled over $400,000, locked his refrigerator door, and left him with only enough money for one pair of shoes. The 90 year old actor pleads with Congress to take action against what is estimated at a $2 billion dollar fraud perpetrated on the elderly each year.