The Psychological Consequences of Eldercare Abuse and Financial Exploitation

Eldercare maltreatment is a societal problem that often goes unaddressed. Financial exploitation is another act that is committed against the elderly, specifically, older individuals who are dependent upon others for their care. People residing in nursing facilities are often the victims of these types of abuses. When an elderly person suffers financial loss of this type, it can cause significant psychological and emotional damage. Many elderly individuals fear they will never be able to recoup their losses since they are no longer working. Others worry that they will become financially dependent upon family members or state programs for the rest of their lives. These conditions can cause an already physically impaired elderly individual to experience depression and anxiety and even contemplate suicide.

Identifying the types of elder abuse that occur most often among elderly people in nursing homes is imperative in order to implement education and prevention programs for these potential victims. Shelly L. Jackson of the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy at the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia sought to pinpoint how rampant pure financial exploitation (PFE) and hybrid financial exploitation (HFE), financial exploitation in combination with other types of abuse or neglect, are among this vulnerable segment of the population.

For her study, Jackson interviewed clients and their eldercare caseworkers and found that of 38 PFE victims, over half had experienced more than one type of exploitation, resulting in an average loss of $79,422. The most common acts were fraud and theft. Sixteen of the clients experienced HFE, with an average financial loss of over $185,000. The HFE victims cited theft, fraud, and extortion as the financial exploitations they incurred. All but one of the HFE victims experienced multiple types of physical abuse, including being hit, grabbed, kicked, slapped, pushed, beaten up, punched, and even choked. Neglect occurred as well for these victims, with many of them having food or medicine withheld. Because of the serious emotional and societal consequences of HFE and PFE, Jackson believes it is important for eldercare facilities to diligently monitor their staff members for these abuses. She added that clients themselves should take steps to ensure their safety. Jackson said, “It may be useful to facilitate a relationship with a trustworthy person to provide oversight of the elderly victim’s financial situation.”

Reference:
Jackson, S. L., Hafemeister, T. L. (2012). Pure Financial Exploitation vs. Hybrid Financial Exploitation Co-Occurring With Physical Abuse and/or Neglect of Elderly Persons. Psychology of Violence. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0027273

© Copyright 2012 by www.GoodTherapy.org - All Rights Reserved.

The preceding article summarizes research or news from periodicals or related source material in the fields of mental health and psychology. GoodTherapy.org did not participate in or condone any studies, or conclucions thereof, that may have been cited. Any views or opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org.

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  • roxanne

    March 2nd, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    This is something that is beyond what I can understand.
    I do not get how you could with any shred of decency take advantage of an elderly person who so clearly can no longer take care of themselves. That is so heartless and cruel yet I know that it happens every day.
    Where are the families of this aging population? In many cases they have abandoned them because they are too much of a “burden” and then they are abused by others who are supposed to be caring for them. That is so sickening to even think about doing that to anyone much less to someone who has no control over their situation.

  • Robynne

    March 2nd, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    You read about things like this happening and it makes you wonder who is watching over all of this and regulating this. I mean, who is really taking care of this demographic? It seems like every day you hear another story about a senior who has been conned or taken advantage of, and it makes me think about my own grandparents and how awful it would be if something like this happened to them.

  • debbie

    March 3rd, 2012 at 5:41 AM

    most of the places where these old people are forced to go and live don’t have enough help and most of the help that they do have are undereducated and just there to get a paycheck and not because they care anything about the residents there. those doing the hiring are ok with them being there as long as they can fog a mirror and i think that we are all seeing that that is not enough.

  • George

    March 3rd, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    First of all I am angered that this kind of thing happens to the most valuable members of our community. These are people who have worked hard to make a living and now are being thrown away like yesterday’s trash. But I do think that it is unfair to characterize every single retirement or nursing home as bad places with workers who are not up to par. They are not all like that. In fact most of them are probably great places, but the sad thing is that the bad ones that are so few and far between are the ones that get the most press. And that is what we end up remembering.

  • Siobhan

    March 4th, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    I am not trying to point the finger of blame, but don’t you think that a lot of this kind of exploitation could be avoided if the families of these people in the homes would pay more attention to them? It is almost like some people put their family members there and forget about them, think that someone else is responsible for taking care of them. And they are, of course they are, but that does not leave you with the liberty to forget all about them either. This is your family, and you always have to be on the lookout for something going on when they are no longer living with you. There are bad people who are just looking for people to take advantage of and unfortunately the elderly are easy targets. All I ask is that you don’t just desert them, and that even when you think that you have them in a place where something like this will not happen, you can never be sure and you do have to be mindful of that.

  • Jacob

    March 5th, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    The biggest thing that is being overlooked here is the fact that nothing, and I mean nothing is being done to stop this from happening!
    Why aren’t these people going to jail for their cations and being made an example out of?
    Maybe if we did this a little more often then the bad guys will take a step back and think about the consequences of what could happen to them if they get caught, instead of just giving them a slap on the wrist!

  • ken

    March 5th, 2012 at 11:29 PM

    its never going to be easy ensuring that such incidents do not occur.what can help the victims here is cash-less transactions for their care and other things.when everything is done electronically there is not much chance of fraud or theft.I think older people not adapting to electronic payments is being taken advantage of here.

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