A recently released preliminary study by researchers at Cornell University published in the Journals of Gerontology concluded that naturally occurring changes in the brains of older people makes them vulnerable to financial exploitation. The changes noted were in a part of the brain that alert us when facing a risky situation as well as another part of the brain that controls the ability to read social cues. This deterioration of the brain can and is exploited by scammers to swindle older people.
A previous study by the University of Iowa also found changes in another part of the brain during aging that controls belief and doubt that would make older people less skeptical and therefore more likely to be a scam victim.
According to a study by the MetLife Mature Market Institute the cost of financial exploitation of the elderly is approximately 3 billion dollars annually.
If you have an elderly family member who may be undergoing a decline in mental acuity, it is important to take specific steps to help prevent them from becoming a victim of financial exploitation. First, it is important to recognize that many elderly victims of financial exploitation are victimized by their own family members or caregivers. Keeping personal financial information and account information safe and secure is an important first step to take. It is also important to regularly monitor the accounts of seniors. Limits on access to funds such as through debit cards that can be customized to monitor spending, block certain types of transactions and set spending limits can be useful to some people.