WEDNESSDAY, Aug. 6, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- As many as one in 20 older adults in the United States may be financially exploited, a new study suggests.
In fact, most older adults have had their money or property stolen or used improperly at some point, the researchers found. What's worse is that this abuse often occurs at the hands of their relatives.
Although financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse, it has not gotten the scrutiny it deserves from doctors, policy makers and caregivers, the researchers concluded. The findings were published Aug. 6 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
"Financial exploitation of older adults is a common and serious problem, and especially happens to elders from groups traditionally considered to be economically, medically and socio-demographically vulnerable," Janey Peterson, of Weill Cornell Medical College, said in a journal news release.
"In addition to robbing older adults of resources, dignity and quality of life, it is likely costing our society dearly in the form of increased entitlement encumbrances, health care and other costs," she said.
Older people are particularly vulnerable to various forms of abuse since they are often socially isolated or facing mental decline, the researchers noted. To more closely examine the prevalence and contributing factors of financial exploitation among older adults, the researchers interviewed more than 4,000 adults aged 60 and older living in New York state.
The study revealed that about 3 percent of those questioned reported being financially exploited in some way over the past year, and nearly 5 percent said they were victims of this type of abuse at some point late in life.
Roughly 80 percent of those interviewed had money or property stolen or misused over the past year. For just over 40 percent of the participants, this happened two to 10 times. The researchers pointed out that 9 percent of the older pe
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