Session: Exploring Social Work Interventions for Elder Financial Exploitation (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

172 Exploring Social Work Interventions for Elder Financial Exploitation

Thursday, January 21, 2021: 5:00 PM-6:00 PM
Cluster: Aging Services and Gerontology
Marti DeLiema, PhD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Elizabeth Lightfoot, PhD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Adria Navarro, PhD, Azusa Pacific University and Zachary Gassoumis, PhD, University of Southern California
The purpose of this roundtable is to identify methodological, logistical, and ethical issues in social work intervention research to prevent and respond to elder financial exploitation and fraud. Retirement income and savings are often the target of financial predators and opportunists who take advantage of age-related declines in financial decision making, even in adults without dementia. Other factors such as social isolation, loneliness, and dependency also increase the risk of elder financial exploitation and fraud. These financial crimes result in billions of dollars in direct losses to victims each year, yet consequences go beyond personal financial losses and include emotional repercussions - guilt, shame, depression, and loss of trust. Victimization also exacts a tremendous toll on families who may struggle to separate the older adult from the financial predator who has established a trust relationship using undue influence and other manipulation tactics. Then there are the significant societal costs as many older victims turn to public services for support after their assets have been diminished or fully depleted.

Existing research focuses largely on the scope of financial exploitation and elder fraud in the United States, as well as the health, cognitive, social, and contextual risk factors of victimization. Relatively few studies have focused on developing and testing social work interventions to prevent and resolve these growing social problems.

In this roundtable discussion, each presenter will briefly provide examples from his or her own research and personal/professional experiences to help begin a broader discussion among the attendees, prompting them to contribute intervention ideas from other fields such as intimate partner violence (IPV) and child abuse. Attendees will be encouraged to introduce their own examples or raise concerns about the ethical and practical limitations that impede robust intervention studies. The goal is to conclude the session with a list of promising intervention approaches to be explored along with ethical and logistical considerations to address in studying these interventions.

First the roundtable will focus on promising ideas for intervention research. Roundtable presenters will share approaches used to address other forms of abuse such as elder mistreatment and IPV, and how these approaches might inform interventions for financial crimes targeting older adults. They will provide examples from their own research and practice, including metrics used to evaluate intervention success, and open the floor to attendees to share novel ideas. Next, the presenters will discuss potential logistical issues related to identifying victims for recruitment, randomization into treatment conditions, working with adult protective services and other first responders to implement study protocols, and obtaining research funding.

Finally, the roundtable presenters will provide examples of ethical issues that may arise in financial victimization research, such as obtaining consent from victims—many of whom have cognitive impairment, ensuring privacy and confidentiality, and working with IRBs. The roundtable is targeted to social work researchers with extensive experience in aging issues, new investigators who are beginning their research careers, and researchers from adjacent fields who have insights to contribute to elder financial exploitation and fraud victim research.

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