Financial Abuse of Elderly People vs. Other Forms of Elder Abuse: Assessing Their Dynamics, Risk Factors, and Society's Response
National Institute of Justice Final Report (2011)
608 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2013
Date Written: June 14, 2013
Purpose: Financial exploitation of elderly people is expected to proliferate over the next decade as the elderly population continues to grow rapidly. This study examined financial exploitation of elderly people compared to other forms of elder maltreatment (physical abuse, neglect, and hybrid, i.e., financial exploitation and physical abuse and/or neglect) that occurred in a domestic setting.
Method: Using semi-structured interviews, 71 adult protective services (APS) caseworkers in Virginia and their elder client were interviewed separately about incidents of maltreatment that came to the attention of APS. Elderly participants were on average 76 years of age, 83% Caucasian, 76% female, and 84% were living in their own home. Interviews lasting between one and three hours covered a number of domains such as case characteristics, consequences, risk factors associated with the elderly victims and their perpetrators, the nature of the interactions between them, the APS investigation, the criminal justice response, and outcomes. In addition, data derived from the Adult Services Adult Protective Services (ASAPS) database managed by the Virginia Department of Social Services were used to in logistic regressions.
Results: Financial exploitation differed from other forms of elder maltreatment, specifically, physical abuse, neglect by other, and hybrid financial exploitation, across a number of important domains. Furthermore, financial exploitation is underreported, underinvestigated and underprosecuted. However, important differences existed among all four forms of elder abuse. An exploration of the dynamics of elder abuse facilitated a greater understanding of the different forms of elder abuse under investigation. Results further revealed discrepancies between APS caseworkers’ and elderly persons’ perceptions of the causes of the elder’s abuse. Furthermore, when differences did persist to the close of the case, the abuse was significantly less likely to cease.
Discussion: These findings indicate the critical need to separate theoretically and practically different types of elder maltreatment. Additionally, critical to increasing our understanding of elder maltreatment is the need to take into consideration perpetrators when examining, predicting, and explaining elder maltreatment and related interventions. An exclusive focus on elderly people will continue to undermine effective interventions. Implications for theory, research, policy, and intervention are discussed.
Keywords: Elder Abuse, Maltreatment of Elderly Persons, Financial Exploitation, Hybride Abuse, Physical Abuse, Neglect, Adult Protective Services, Interpersonal Dynamics, Domestic Violence
JEL Classification: D13, D18, D60, H51, H55, I00, I1, I10, I18, I30, I31, K10, K19, K30, K32, K40, K42, Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation