Aging Population: Financial Exploitation Is A Form of Elder Abuse with Dr. Peter Lichtenberg

There is nothing more despicable than the exploitation of the aging population. Elder abuse occurs in many forms, including financial exploitation. That’s why I have Peter A. Lichtenberg, Ph.D., ABPP, join the show. He is the Director of The Institute of Gerontology and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute. In this episode, we discuss the financial exploitation of seniors and the elderly. Tune in as Dr. Peter reveals the risk factors for elder financial exploitation. Plus, we speak about how seniors can avoid financial exploitation and what happens after your loved one falls prey to a scam.


In This Episode:

  • [03:00] Meet Dr. Peter A. Lichtenberg. Dr. Peter explains what financial exploitation is for seniors.
  • [07:00] Risk factors for elder financial exploitation.
  • [16:00] How Dr. Peter helps seniors avoid financial exploitation.
  • [21:55] About the financial exploitation survey – find out if you are at enhanced vulnerability.
  • [26:35] How to intervene when financial exploitation is taking place.
  • [30:40] Why you need to have a difficult conversation with your loved ones.


Key Takeaways:

  • Financial abuse and exploitation account for thirty-six billion dollars in losses to seniors.
  • Financial exploitation is considered a form of elder mistreatment; the person abuses the trust of the senior and abuses or misleads the older adult into a scam.
  • Financial exploitation is growing in the older community; it’s the second most common form of elder abuse.
  • Psychological vulnerability is a significant risk factor for elder financial exploitation.


Meet Dr. Peter A. Lichtenberg

Peter A. Lichtenberg, Ph.D., ABPP is the Director of The Institute of Gerontology and the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute. He is also a Professor of Psychology at Wayne State University. He received his bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and his master’s and doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Purdue University. 

After his internship he completed a post-doctoral fellowship in geriatric neuropsychology at the University of Virginia Medical School where he also became a faculty member. A clinician and researcher throughout his career Dr. Lichtenberg, one of the first board certified Clinical Geropsychologists in the nation, has made contributions to the practice of psychology across a variety of areas including in Alzheimer’s disease, medical rehabilitation and with those suffering from late life depression. 

He is particularly interested in the area of intersection between financial capacity and financial exploitation; finding ways to balance autonomy and protection for older adults. His work in this area led him to be a contributor to the 2008 Assessment of Diminished Capacity of Older Adults: A Handbook for Psychologists published jointly by the American Bar and American Psychological Associations. In 2013 he published the first nationally representative study on predictors of older adult scam victims. 

In 2015 he published the Lichtenberg Financial Decision Making Rating Scale, and the Lichtenberg Financial Decision Screening Scale, and has contributed several empirical studies on the scales since then. These tools can be used to assess major financial decisions and/or transactions of older adults. He has authored 7 books and over 190 scientific articles in Geropsychology including being the senior editor for the American Psychological Association’s Handbook of Clinical Geropsychology.