Financial exploitation is a serious and ongoing issue facing seniors nationwide, with losses estimated at around $2.9 billion nationally, and Massachusetts’ aging population is not exempt. According to a recent article, the Massachusetts Protective Services authorities were contacted around 21,000 times last year on suspicions of elder abuse, with, approximately, one third of cases involved some form of financial exploitation. This problem is expected to increase as vulnerable populations of senior with Alzheimer’s disease are projected to double, and perhaps triple, in number across the country by 2050.
In response to the projected increase in seniors targeted for financial abuse, several initiatives have been introduced. The initiatives, focusing on understanding the scope and size of the issue in order to create effective strategies aimed at combatting the abuse, include a Massachusetts special state commission tasked with investigating and making recommendations to the Governor’s office to strengthen protective services for elders.
The Commission, lobbied for by Massachusetts Representative Paul Brodeur, is expected to issue a report in January 2014, which includes a proposal establishing teams of financial experts who can serve as volunteer assistance in unraveling financial scams for the often overwhelmed protective service staff.
Specialists and legal experts have also come together to form the Center for Law, Brain, And Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital, which, among other things, is focused on better understanding the changes in the brain, which can leave seniors vulnerable to undue influence in financial decisions.
More Information on Reporting Elder Abuse
Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs: Protective Services