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Frayed relationships could leave older people vulnerable to scammers Trending

TUESDAY, May 31, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Older adults who are lonely or unhappy with their relationships may be more vulnerable to scammers, new research suggests.

The study shows that “the quality of older adults’ interpersonal relationships has an impact on their financial vulnerability later in life,” said study co-author Duke Han, professor of family medicine, neurology, psychology and gerontology at the University of California Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

According to the study, in addition to the other benefits, social connections can help protect against financial abuse.

“This study points to a specific factor – social functioning – that could allow us to predict and ultimately prevent vulnerability to financial exploitation,” said co-author Aaron Lim, a postdoctoral fellow in Han’s research lab. Both Han and Lim spoke in a school press release.

The study involved 26 adults, all aged at least 50 and with an average age of 65. Researchers assessed each participant’s general health, mental functioning, depression, anxiety, and history of financial exploitation.

The team then collected data every two weeks for six months to measure how well the participants’ relationships were working. They did this by asking how often they had had a fight with someone, felt rejected, felt lonely, wished their relationships were better, and wished they had more friends.

Vulnerability assessment questions have also been included, such as: B. “How confident are you when it comes to making big financial decisions?” and “How many times has someone talked you into making a decision to spend or donate money that you didn’t originally want?”

“If a person reported an increase in problems in their social environment or an increased sense of loneliness, we were much more likely to see a corresponding increase in their psychological vulnerability to financial exploitation two weeks later,” Lim said.

These results can shed light on how to protect against common scams, from phishing emails to phone calls where a scammer pretends to be the recipient’s grandchild in urgent need of cash.

Lim suggested that adult children and grandchildren should be aware of social upsets in the lives of their elders, including the death of a close friend or an argument with a family member, to protect them during these difficult times. Organizations that support seniors can also provide additional opportunities for social contact.

The results were recently published in the journal Aging & Mental Health.

More information

The US Federal Trade Commission has more on scams against older adults.

SOURCE: University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, press release, May 24, 2022

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