Gassoumis, Z. D., Navarro, A. E., & Wilber, K. H. (2015). Protecting victims of elder financial exploitation: the role of an Elder Abuse Forensic Center in referring victims for conservatorship. Aging & mental health, 19(9), 790-798.

The aim of this study was to examine the extent to which an Elder Abuse Forensic Center protects financial exploitation (FE) victims through referral to the Office of the Public Guardian (PG) for investigation and possible conservatorship (called ‘guardianship’ in many states).

Los Angeles County Elder Abuse Forensic Center cases involving adults aged 65 and older (April 2007-December 2009) were matched using one-to-one propensity-score matching to 33,650 usual care Adult Protective Services (APS) cases. The final analysis sample consisted of 472 FE cases.

Compared to usual care, Forensic Center cases were more likely to be referred to the PG for investigation (30.6%, n = 72 vs. 5.9%, n = 14, p < .001). The strongest predictors of PG referral were suspected cognitive impairment, as identified by APS (odds ratio [OR] = 11.69, confidence intervals [CI]: 3.50-39.03), and Forensic Center review (OR = 7.85, CI: 3.86-15.95). Among referred cases, the court approved conservatorship at higher rates – though not statistically significant – for Forensic Center cases than usual care (52.9%, n = 36/68 vs. 41.7%, n = 5/12).

Conservatorship may be a necessary last resort to improve safety for some FE victims, and the Forensic Center appears to provide a pathway to this service. These findings suggest modification to the Elder Abuse Forensic Center conceptual model and contribute to an emerging body of evidence on the role of the Forensic Center in addressing elder abuse. Read More