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.”
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
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