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Researchers explore why seniors may easily fall victim to scams

Posted by RHHAdmin on Aug 16, 2012 8:17:00 AM

Seniors have a stigma for being easily swayed by scammers, which has been a cause of concern for many family members. As a result, loved ones may consider enlisting the help of a home health care worker in order to make sure the senior is living the highest quality of life possible and is not making poor decisions.

While some people may think they have an idea of why seniors are easy targets for scams, new research out of the University of Iowa delves further. The researchers point to statistics from the National Institute of Justice, which found that in 2009, nearly 12 percent of Americans 60 or older were financially stooped by either a family member or a stranger.

The study's authors suggest that although everyone may know the phrase "If something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is," as seniors age, the specific area of the brain that reminds them of this could either deteriorate or become damaged. The researchers zeroed in on the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), noting that when it becomes damaged it could cause people to fall victim to schemes.

"In our theory, the more effortful process of disbelief (to items initially believed) is mediated by the vmPFC, which, in old age, tends to disproportionately lose structural integrity and associated functionality," the authors wrote. "Thus, we suggest that vulnerability to misleading information, outright deception and fraud in older adults is the specific result of a deficit in the doubt process that is mediated by the vmPFC."

However, there are steps family members and those providing elderly care can do to ensure a senior is not exposed to fraud. According to Forbes, making sure the senior is receiving financial education from a trusted source can reduce the chances that they'll give their money to a scam.

"Financial swindles targeting older Americans are a bigger problem today than ever before and seniors need more help," Don Blandin, president and CEO of the Investor Protection Trust, told the news provider. "It is encouraging that we are seeing more securities regulators collaborating with health care practitioners, adult protective services professionals, and others to help curb this national crisis. Seven out of 10 survey respondents agree that this type of collaborative, community-based program is an effective means to combat financial abuse before the damage is done."

Residential Home Health is a leading provider of in-home nursing and therapy care throughout Michigan and Illinois. In addition to home health care, Residential's continuum of care includes Residential Hospice and Healthy Living Medical Supply. If you are interested in learning more about the home care services Residential provides, please call 866-902-4000 or visit www.residentialhomehealth.com.

Topics: Health News, Financial Health