Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to participate?

We are currently recruiting family members as study participants. If you can answer “yes” to the following questions, please contact us to get involved.

We are interested in recruiting family members who meet the following criteria:

  • A family member who is NOT the elder exploitation victim
  • A family member who is NOT the perpetrator of the elder financial exploitation
  • A family member who has experienced elder family financial exploitation regardless of whether or not it was reported to authorities
  • Resides in the Twin Cities Metro area to easily conduct in-person interviews
  • If not in the Twin Cities Metro areas, the family member is willing to be interviewed over the phone
  • Is able to understand and speak English

Who in my family can participate?

We realize that more than one family member who is not the elder victim, or perpetrator, may want to participate from the same family. For example, more than one adult child or other relatives may want to be involved. We would welcome additional family members to be involved and could likely interview up to four family members. We know that each family member will offer their own perspective on the exploitation experience. It is important that each family member be able to freely choose whether or not to participate. Separate and private interviews would be scheduled for each family member. Each family member is entitled to the same privacy and confidentiality, meaning that what one family member shares will not be shared with another family member in the same family system.

What’s involved?

  • Roughly a two-hour time commitment to complete a personal interview at a time and private place convenient for you. Interviews will be taking place Fall 2016 through Spring 2017.
  • We will arrange for a private and quiet room to conduct the interview with you. Or, you may also choose where the interview takes place as long as it is private and quiet.
  • The interview questions will ask you about experiences, meaning, feelings, thinking, and behaviors in regards to elder financial exploitation. To begin, you will be asked to provide an overview of your family, including yourself, the elder victim, and perpetrator(s). You will then be asked to describe and tell your exploitation story (what, why, who, when, how). The questions that follow will be about the quality of family member relationships, family functioning, entitlement norms, and how you feel these are tied to the exploitation. You will be asked to describe the impact of the exploitation on yourself and your family, and to share lessons learned.
  • Finally, you will be asked to complete a brief written survey that should take no more than 10-15 minutes. The survey will ask you for basic demographic information about yourself, the elder victim and perpetrator, and to select words that best describe your family relationships.
  • You will receive a $30 Target gift card for your time and participation. You will still receive the gift card if you choose not to answer some questions, or choose to withdraw from participating.

Why is this study important?

It is widely agreed that the most prevalent and growing type of elder abuse is family financial exploitation, defined as a situation when a family member is the perpetrator involved in the “illegal, unauthorized, or improper use of an elder’s resources including funds, property, or assets.” Elder Family Financial Exploitation is part of a larger emerging elder justice crises with numerous costs and consequences for elders, their family systems and society.

Our society is facing a time when more and more families, and professionals working with families, will be experiencing the complexities of financial exploitation situations. The need for research-based best practices is expected to grow exponentially with the baby boom generation on the cusp of retirement, the oldest old as the fastest growing proportion of the population, and more four-to- five living generations of family systems.

There are too many unknowns; elder financial exploitation as a field of study is in its infancy.

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.

The Elder Family Financial Exploitation Project will increase our understanding of the meaning and experience of financial exploitation from a non-victim and non-perpetrator family members’ perspectives. As a result, a solid research base will help to inform family financial exploitation prevention and best practices. We will take what we learn in this study, and create educational tools to help other family members prevent and negotiate the family dynamics involved in elder family financial exploitation.

What are the benefits and risks to participants?

Benefits:There are no direct benefits from participating in this study. Indirect benefits include having your voice and perspective heard. You may find it beneficial to talk about your experiences and feelings with someone willing to listen. You will receive a list of available resources to help family members experiencing exploitation, as well as selected educational resources to help family members plan in advance to avoid financial exploitation.

Risks: You may find certain questions too personal or sensitive. You may feel uncomfortable or stressed answering some of the questions we ask, not know how to answer the questions, or not be used to talking about certain topics with people you don’t know. However, these experiences are likely to be comparable to the stress levels encountered as part of daily life. You always have the right to choose not to answer any particular question, or stop the interview at any time.

If we are made aware that the case may involve current maltreatment of a vulnerable adult, as mandated reporters, we will make a report to the Minnesota Adult Abuse Reporting Center.

What about confidentiality?

All recordings, surveys, and written records involved in this study will be kept private.  In any sort of research report or educational materials we might publish, we will not include any information that will make it possible to identify you as a participant, or anyone mentioned in your family. Research records will be stored securely and only researchers will have access to the records. The voice recording of the interview will be destroyed immediately after the digital interview is transcribed in print form. Study data will be stored and managed according to current University policy to protect your confidentiality.  Any names or identifiable information will be altered or deleted.

What is the consent process?

As researchers we are committed to having our potential study participants fully informed about the research purpose, processes, potential risks and benefits, and confidentiality procedures. It is important that each participant understand participation is purely voluntary. It is also critical that participants understand potential risks, benefits, and what’s involved. Our goal is to answer any and all questions participants may have before agreeing to participate. A copy of the content form will be shared with you in advance for your review. A researcher will also go through the consent form with you in person prior to the interview.

Click here to review the informed consent form for this project.