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UW Researchers Seek Participants for Elder Financial Abuse Study

January 11, 2017

Volunteers are being sought by University of Wyoming scientists to participate in research of elder financial abuse in Wyoming.

Researchers are studying whether there are factors that contribute to or prevent elder financial abuse. All information is confidential, says Virginia Vincenti, a professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ Department of Family and Consumer Sciences. She leads the project.

They seek those in family experiences where older adults have appointed family members as their power of attorney agents. Researchers will compare successful and exploitive family situations to identify potential risk and protective factors.

Those interested would take a confidential survey and may be asked to be interviewed. The research is funded by the UW Social Justice Research Center and several other sources.

As the population in the world ages, there are greater numbers of older adults needing help managing their own affairs, Vincenti says.

“Unfortunately, we find that this demographic change parallels an increase in many negative outcomes, including financial exploitation,” she adds.

Little is known about factors in families that increase or decrease the likelihood of exploitation. UW researchers want to look at family systems and determine what in their families, interactions, family history, relationship and/or values could be identified as risk or factors that contributed to a smooth process.

“We think a good way toward preventing a problem is by learning about what precedes it,” Vincenti says.

Researchers want to present results at UW’s Shepherd Symposium in April.

Bernard Steinman, an assistant professor in the department, developed the survey and is a collaborator with Vincenti.

“One of the things I’m most interested in broadly is making sure there is social justice for people who are vulnerable,” he says. “As a gerontologist, I know people start to experience losses that make them vulnerable to all sorts of things.”

For more information about taking the survey, call Vincenti at (307) 766-4079 or email

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