Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 29, Issue 12, pp 1615–1623

Financial Exploitation of Older Adults: A Population-Based Prevalence Study


    • Division of Clinical Epidemiology and Evaluative Sciences Research, Center for Integrative Medicine, Department of Cardiothoracic SurgeryWeill Cornell Medical College
  • David P.R. Burnes
    • Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social WorkUniversity of Toronto
  • Paul L. Caccamise
    • Lifespan of Greater Rochester
  • Art Mason
    • Lifespan of Greater Rochester
  • Charles R. HendersonJr.
    • Department of Human DevelopmentCornell University
  • Martin T. Wells
    • Departments of Statistical Science and Social StatisticsCornell University
  • Jacquelin Berman
    • New York City Department for the Aging
  • Ann Marie Cook
    • Lifespan of Greater Rochester
  • Denise Shukoff
    • Lifespan of Greater Rochester
  • Patricia Brownell
    • Fordham University
  • Mebane Powell
    • New York City Department for the Aging
  • Aurora Salamone
    • New York City Department for the Aging
  • Karl A. Pillemer
    • Department of Human DevelopmentCornell University
  • Mark S. Lachs
    • Division of Geriatrics and Palliative MedicineWeill Cornell Medical College
Original Research

DOI: 10.1007/s11606-014-2946-2

Cite this article as:
Peterson, J.C., Burnes, D.P., Caccamise, P.L. et al. J GEN INTERN MED (2014) 29: 1615. doi:10.1007/s11606-014-2946-2



Financial exploitation is the most common and least studied form of elder abuse. Previous research estimating the prevalence of financial exploitation of older adults (FEOA) is limited by a broader emphasis on traditional forms of elder mistreatment (e.g., physical, sexual, emotional abuse/neglect).


1) estimate the one-year period prevalence and lifetime prevalence of FEOA; 2) describe major FEOA types; and 3) identify factors associated with FEOA.


Prevalence study with a random, stratified probability sample.


Four thousand, one hundred and fifty-six community-dwelling, cognitively intact adults age ≥ 60 years.


New York State.


Comprehensive tool developed for this study measured five FEOA domains: 1) stolen or misappropriated money/property; 2) coercion resulting in surrendering rights/property; 3) impersonation to obtain property/services; 4) inadequate contributions toward household expenses, but respondent still had enough money for necessities and 5) respondent was destitute and did not receive necessary assistance from family/friends.


One-year period FEOA prevalence was 2.7 % (95 % CI, 2.29–3.29) and lifetime prevalence was 4.7 % (95 % CI, 4.05–5.34). Greater relative risk (RR) of one-year period prevalence was associated with African American/black race (RR, 3.80; 95 % CI, 1.11–13.04), poverty (RR, 1.72; 95 % CI, 1.09–2.71), increasing number of non-spousal household members (RR, 1.16; 95 % CI, 1.06–1.27), and ≥ 1 instrumental activity of daily living (IADL) impairments (RR, 1.69; 95 % CI, 1.12–2.53). Greater RR of lifetime prevalence was associated with African American/black race (RR, 2.61; 95 % CI, 1.37–4.98), poverty (RR, 1.47; 95 % CI, 1.04–2.09), increasing number of non-spousal household members (RR, 1.16; 95 % CI, 1.12–1.21), and having ≥1 IADL (RR, 1.45; 95 % CI, 1.11–1.90) or ≥1 ADL (RR, 1.52; 95 % CI, 1.06–2.18) impairment. Living with a spouse/partner was associated with a significantly lower RR of lifetime prevalence (RR, 0.39; 95 % CI, 0.26–0.59)


Financial exploitation of older adults is a common and serious problem. Elders from groups traditionally considered to be economically, medically, and sociodemographically vulnerable are more likely to self-report financial exploitation.


financial exploitationelder financial abuseelder abuseelder mistreatmenteconomic abuse

Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2014