About the Project

To learn about cases when elderly people are victims of financial exploitation by someone in their own family.

The overall purpose of the study is to learn about family experiences when elderly people are victims of financial exploitation by someone in their own family. Elder family financial exploitation occurs when a family member as the perpetrator is involved in the illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an elder’s resources including financial assets or property.

Research Questions

“In my family” is a chance for family members, other than the direct victim and the perpetrator, to tell their story about the experience, costs, and impact of family financial exploitation. This research study being conducted at the University of Minnesota will specifically provide insight into:

  • How family members articulate the meaning and experience of elder family financial exploitation
  • Perceptions of risk and protective factors, including the role of family functioning, quality of relationships, a sense of entitlement, and a history of exchanging resources within the family
  • The costs and consequences of the exploitation on family members and their family systems
  • How family members cope when faced with elder family financial exploitation

Family members who are willing to share their experience with elder financial exploitation will be contributing valuable information that will help others learn from their experiences. Our goal is to recruit at least one family member from 20 different families who have experienced Elder Family Financial Exploitation to share their stories.

The findings from this study will help other family members and professionals learn how to prevent and respond to elder financial exploitation, the most prevalent and growing type of elder abuse.


It is widely agreed that the most prevalent and growing type of elder abuse is family financial exploitation. Elder Family Financial Exploitation is part of a larger emerging elder justice crises with unmeasured costs and consequences for elders, their family systems and society. The voices and perspectives of affected family members and elder victims are largely absent from existing literature. To our knowledge, only two published studies in the U.S. have examined family member’s perceptions of Elder Family Financial Exploitation.

The need for and design of this project has also evolved from ongoing conversations with key Minnesota Elder Justice Center leaders. The mission of the Minnesota Elder Justice Center is to mobilize communities to prevent and alleviate abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of elders and vulnerable adults. Research is needed to inform public awareness, public policy, and professional education priorities, three current Elder Justice Center priorities. These priorities align with those identified in the National Elder Justice Roadmap report.