Serving Our Seniors continues to receive reports of people age 60 and older being scammed and exploited. Older people are specifically targeted for such exploits for many reasons.— Some seniors have successfully saved and invested and now have a nest egg that has financial value. — Being polite is part of the culture of older people. Many report feeling guilty if they tell the financial predator, “No. I’m not interested.” They also report feeling guilty if they hang up without having a conversation. — Many older adults are single, so they don’t have a confidante to help scrutinize financial decisions that are being considered. — Older adults are less likely to be Internet savvy, and therefore, unable to gather necessary information needed to test the validity of an offer; or the validity of the person/business making the offer. — Some seniors are socially isolated and often lonely. When the salesman successfully gains that lonely person’s confidence and trust, any offer sounds good/fair, only to find that the senior citizen lost out. — There are more people living independently who are memory impaired. Hence their ability to practice good judgment and reasoning is compromised and easier to convince and exploit. The one thing that is important to understand is that an older person -- or a person of any age -- does not have to be of “unsound mind” to be a exploited through the use of undue influence. According to a report by the Center for Law and Aging, “Undue Influence: Definitions and Applications,” undue influence is described as “…the use of excessive pressure by a dominant person over a servient person resulting the will of the servient person being overborne.” In other words, it is a behavior that is practiced by one person who is in a position of power, authority, or professional expertise. This power is used to influence a decision that is not in the other person’s own best interest. When the report categorized the characteristics of the older victims, the ones that caught my attention were: Grieving — someone who is unable to make decisions without a significant amount of reassurance, one who feels abandoned, overly sensitive to criticism, pessimistic, fears losing the approval of another if the older person disagrees, and one who places the needs of others above their own. Clearly, a person can have these personality characteristics and not be diagnosed as having an “unsound mind”, yet be a victim of undue influence. Net Wellness (netwellness.org/healthtopics/aging/agingstats.cfm) reports Ohio’s senior citizen populations will grow from 1,963,489 Ohioans age 60 and older in 2010 to 2,822,000 in 2020. If this projection is correct, undue influence is sure to be a larger social issue in the field of geriatrics. One that deserves further study so that appropriate preventative action can effectively implemented.
Aug 31 2015