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Enhancing Trauma Informed Responses to Older Adult Victims of Financial Exploitation

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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $299,710)

Elder financial abuse and exploitation is an unfortunate and growing trend, which is expected to increase as the Baby Boomer population ages. Adults over the age of 60 represent 15.2% of the population, with at least one in every seven Americans in this age category. Financial exploitation by strangers comes in the form of frauds or scams, but also by trusted family members through misuse of Power of Attorney privileges or breach of fiduciary duty. Financial exploitation affects the victim’s dignity and quality of life. There are financial costs as well as non-financial costs associated with this kind of exploitation. The violation of trust and the impact of monetary loss can be traumatic. Peninsula Elder Abuse Forensic Center (PEAFC) was formed to find collaborative solutions to alleviate abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of older adults. It is an enhanced multi-disciplinary team that hears complex cases of elder abuse, convening local resources to provide a 360 degree view of elder abuse cases. The goal of the proposed project is to enhance trauma-informed services for older victims of abuse and financial exploitation. The proposed PEAFC project addresses an identified gap in services in complex financial exploitation cases of abuse. There are four objectives of the proposed project. First, PEAFC will provide direct services to at least 30 older adult victims of financial exploitation using trauma-informed approaches that empower older adult victims of financial exploitation. This service allows them to move past the victimization and stop or alleviate the financial exploitation that has occurred by providing private counseling sessions to them at no cost. Second, the Forensic Accountant, in conjunction with the PEAFC Multidisciplinary team members will develop and disseminate proactive education materials to assist high-risk potential older victims of abuse (before overt elder abuse develops or occurs). Third, the Forensic Accountant, a forensic document examiner (for potential forgeries) and a neuropsychologist will aid in the prosecution of financial exploitation cases and ultimately result in restorative justice. Fourth, professional education and training will be provided each year to the PEAFC multidisciplinary team (MDT) members and other aging service professionals on various topics related to assisting victims of financial exploitation. By utilizing this four-pronged approach, the desired outcome is for older adult victims of financial exploitation to be restored emotionally and monetarily to the greatest extent possible and to have an MDT well-versed in all aspects of financial exploitation and victim response.

Date Created: September 28, 2021