'Red flags' of elder investment fraud the focus of UNE program on April 18th

March 26, 2012

In late February, an 82-year-old woman from Arundel lost $80,000 to con artists who convinced her she had won the lottery.  Last July, an 85-year-old woman was found in a cabin in Edgecomb, malnourished and alone, after having been robbed of her life savings by charming perpetrators.

Financial losses by exploitation of elder adults is estimated to approach $2.6 billion, according to a survey conducted by the MetLife Mature Market Institute.  Assisting health care professionals in identifying the red flags of financial elder abuse is the focus of a program presented by the University of New England Maine Geriatric Education Center (UNE-MGEC) and UNE Center for Community and Public Health (UNE-CCPH), in partnership with the State of Maine Office of Securities, on April 18 at UNE's Portland Campus.

A paper authored by Robert E. Roush, EdD, MPH, director of the Texas Consortium Geriatric Education Center at Baylor College of Medicine, says that more than a third of Americans over the age of 71 have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or Alzheimer's disease, making them more susceptible to investment swindles and other financial abuse.

Roush, together with Judith Shaw, JD, administrator at the Maine Office of Securities, will lead the program at UNE.  The event is part of the national Elder Investment Fraud and Financial Exploitation Prevention Program that aims to educate health care professionals about how to spot older Americans who may be vulnerable to investment fraud abuse, and then refer these at-risk patients to state securities regulators and adult services professionals.

Judith Metcalf, APRN, BC, MS, director of the UNE Maine Geriatric Education Center, says, "As many as one in five older Americans has been a target of financial fraud; this is indeed a major public health issue. This program will train Maine's health professionals to use this simple screening tool to identify older adults who may be at risk of becoming victims themselves.

Maine is one of the oldest states in the nation, and this program provides critical tools and resources for health professionals to keep Maine's older adults safe. We are pleased to partner with the UNE-CCPH and the Office of Securities to bring this program to Maine."

Roush and Shaw will share a nationally recognized, research-based clinician's toolkit that assists in screening older adults for MCI and other underlying conditions that can lead to financial exploitation, and includes action steps and resources to prevent its occurrence.

The event is free to health care professionals and carries an AMA PRA Category 1 Credit for continuing medical education.  Registration is required.  It will be held at the WCHP Lecture Hall on UNE's Portland Campus from 5-6:30 p.m. on April 18.

For more information, or to register for the event, contact Marilyn Amoroso at mamoroso@une.edu or 207-221-4460.