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Seniors and Scams

Last update on: Mar 14 2020

New research from Cornell University indicates why some seniors are scam victims. The study found that victims and non-victims have many similar traits. Their personalities are normal and they can do arithmetic just fine. But the study found that their brains are different, with the scam victims showing atrophy in certain parts of the brain.

The exploited older people in their study had more atrophy and less connectivity in two key areas of the brain. One region signals a person when something significant is happening around them, and the other tells them how to read social cues, like other people’s intentions. The team published their work March 28 in The Journals of Gerontology.

Together, these age-related changes in the brain may make older adults more vulnerable to financial exploitation – especially when one considers that family members are the most common perpetrators of financial abuse, said the study’s lead author, Nathan Spreng, assistant professor of human development and a Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow.

“It’s not their fault they’ve been abused. It’s not because they made a bad decision. There are biological reasons why these abuses have occurred, and we’re trying to get a handle on that,” said Spreng, who directs Cornell’s Laboratory of Brain and Cognition.

 

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