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Fraud and Memory Impairment

The aging population in America, generally trusting and polite, are frequently targeted by ruthless con-artists.  Sometimes this has to do with the older generations’ upbringing, as described in Dr. Virginia Templeton’s article Fraud, Vulnerability, and Aging: Fraud Against North Carolina’s Older Consumers; What is Behind It . The same article sites that in the 1990s the staff of the Consumer Protection Division learned that an exciting or alarming statement was the con artists’ most important tool. Cultivating a sense of trust, also an emotional approach, was found to be a commonly employed technique.

This notion is further corroborated and expanded upon By Natalie L. Denburg, Ph.D. and Lyndsay Harshman, B.S. at the Dana Foundation “Why So Many Seniors Get Swindled; Brain Anomalies and Poor Decision Making in Older Adults”  (August 10, 2009). The article suggests that poor decision making is not necessarily due to normal aging nor is it a definitive sign of dementia.  The theory suggests an area in the front of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, undergoes a decline in specific neural function required for complex decision-making.  The hypothesis is that “these seniors may be losing their ability to make complex choices that require effective emotional processing to analyze short-term and long-term considerations. Older adults in this category fall prey to the promise of an immediate reward or a simple solution to a complicated problem. They fail to detect the longer-range adverse consequences of their actions. Finally, they may assume long-term benefits in situations where there are none.”  .

Consult the FBIs webpage for Common Fraud Schemes for tips how to safeguard your senior.

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