The financial exploitation of elders is a growing epidemic. The negative effects on the aging population are numerous. In June of 2011, MetLife published a study of Elder Financial Abuse. The key findings were astonishing:
• The annual financial loss by victims of elder financial abuse is estimated to be at least $2.9 billion dollars, a 12% increase from the $2.6 billion estimated in 2008.
• Instances of fraud perpetrated by strangers comprised 51% of news articles published on the subject. Reports of elder financial abuse by family, friends, and neighbors came in second, with 34% of the news articles followed by reports of exploitation within the business sector (12%) and Medicare and Medicaid fraud (4%).
• Medicare and Medicaid fraud resulted in the highest average loss to victims ($38,263,136) followed by fraud by business and industry ($6,219,496), family, friends, and neighbors ($145,768), and fraud by strangers ($95,156).
• Women were nearly twice as likely to be victims of elder financial abuse as men. Most victims were between the ages of 80 and 89, lived alone, and required some level of help with either health care or home maintenance. In almost all of the cases, there existed a combination of tenuous, valued independence and observable vulnerability that merged in the lives of victims to optimize opportunities for abuse by every type of perpetrator — from the closest family members to professional criminals.
• Nearly 60% of perpetrators were males. Most male perpetrators were between the ages of 30 and 59, while most of the female perpetrators were between the ages of 30 and 49. Perpetrators who were strangers often targeted victims with visible vulnerabilities (e.g., limited mobility, displays of confusion, or living alone).
To read the full report click here.