Financial elder abuse research

Surprisingly little is known about financial elder abuse and in order to shed some light on this ‘silent crime’ in Victoria, State Trustees commissioned Monash University to conduct a three year research project entitled: Protecting Elders Assets Study (PEAS): Ethical Management of Older Persons’ Financial Assets (2009-2011).

The five reports from the study have made a significant contribution to raising awareness, education and professional development about financial elder abuse.

Report 1: Financial Abuse of Elders: a Review of the Evidence (June 2009), provides a summary of existing Australian and international research and the next stages of the study aim to build on this existing knowledge.

Report 2: Data on prevalence of financial elder abuse in Victoria (May 2010), provides a summary of existing data and sheds further light on this silent crime. While many organisations have data on financial elder abuse, the quality varies. The challenge is to develop consistent definitions and recording formats.

Report 3: Staying safe with money: the experience of older English speaking Victorians (November 2010), reveals that Victorians most commonly trust their children to manage their finances in old age, despite past findings identifying sons and daughters as the most likely offenders of financial elder abuse. Data for this report was drawn from 410 Victorians aged 65 – 100 who were surveyed on their current and planned financial management strategies.

Report 4: Diversity and financial elder abuse in Victoria (February 2011), explores similar issues to report three, but with older people from two groups:

  • older urban non-English speaking Victorians (Greek, Italian and Vietnamese)
  • older rural English-speaking Victorians

This pilot community study reveals that non-English speaking Australians are at higher risk of financial elder abuse due to their dependency on others for translation, transactions and services relating to the management of their finances.

Report 5: For Love or money: intergenerational management of older Victorians’ assets (June 2011) explores financial elder abuse through the eyes of 15 professionals in the health, legal, financial, community and aged care sectors who work closely with older people and their families. It identifies how employees within these sectors can recognise and respond to financial elder abuse.