Earlier this year, Wayne State’s Institute of Gerontology (IOG) launched olderadultnestegg.com, which provides free online training, screenings and interviews to assess the financial decision-making ability of older adults and identify exploitation risks.
“Forty-eight million U.S. adults are 65 or older and worth billions of dollars in income and assets,” said IOG Director Peter Lichtenberg. “The pursuit of these ‘nest eggs’ is one of the fastest-growing consumer fraud issues today.”
Lichtenberg — one of the country’s leading experts in the prevention of financial exploitation in older adults — created olderadultnestegg.com with tools designed for easy use by a long list of professionals who work with older adults. This includes bankers, estate planners, attorneys, social workers, insurance agents, law enforcement officials, and employees of Adult Protective Services.
“We’ve heard from dozens of professionals who are grateful to have a way to evaluate these types of decisions in their clients,” Lichtenberg said. “Nothing like this exists, especially in a user-friendly form and targeting financial decisions.”
The tools on the website can establish a baseline of decision-making, confirm decisional abilities before a major financial transaction, measure psychological vulnerability to exploitation or undue influence, and assess a client after suspected exploitation. A deficit in financial decision-making capacity can be the first harbinger of broad cognitive impairment. Assessments are computer scored for risk and suggest next steps to evaluate and protect.
After more than five years of research and validation, Lichtenberg released the tools, which include:
- Financial Decision Tracker — a 10-item interview with the older adult about a recent significant financial decision.
- Financial Vulnerability Assessment — a deeper interview to assess the older adult’s cognitive functioning, awareness and psychological vulnerability related to a financial decision.
- Family and Friends Interview — a brief interview with an older adult’s trusted relative or friend about the older adult’s financial decision-making, designed to complement results from the Decision Tracker or Vulnerability Assessment.