Untangling the Complexities of Elder Financial Abuse and Exploitation

Millions of older Americans are targeted for financial exploitation, telemarketing fraud, internet fraud, and other scams (AARP, 1999). The 2011 MetLife study estimated a total loss to elder victims totaling an annual $2.9 billion from financial fraud alone. Instances of financial mistreatment by family members, friends, and neighbors are particularly difficult to detect, assess, and intervene given the hidden nature of the abuse and the context of close, interpersonal relationships in which it occurs. Cognitive, social, and psychological risk factors further increase an older adult’s vulnerability for mistreatment. This presentation will untangle the myriad complexities of elder financial abuse by reviewing legal definitions of financial exploitation, ethical dilemmas of autonomy vs. protection, critical warning signs, strategies for assessment and detection, and state reporting procedures to involve local law enforcement and adult protection agencies. Several case examples will be provided to help facilitate attendees’ discussion of prevention protocols, barriers to assessment and detection, ethical challenges, and potential solutions to ensure the safety and overall well‐being of older community members.


Seal & Gibson Presentation (PowerPoint)
EFA Presentation (PowerPoint)
VOE Spring 2014 (PDF)
VOE Summer 2014 (PDF)
VOE Winter 2014 (PDF)


Dr. Sheri Gibson received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2013 with a curricular emphasis in Geropsychology from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS). She completed her internship at the V.A. Palo Alto Healthcare System and her post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and at Rocky Mountain PACE. Dr. Gibson is the former Director of Behavioral Health Services for Rocky Mountain PACE and BrainCare programs. She is faculty affiliate with the UCCS Gerontology Center as an instructor for integrated care in geriatric clinical settings. Dr. Gibson has published works in the area of elder financial abuse for which she has received national recognition for her research and has presented lectures at national, local, and regional conferences. She serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, is Chairperson for the Colorado Coalition for Elder Rights and Abuse Prevention (CCERAP), and has volunteered for the Pikes Peak Elder Abuse Coalition (PPEAC) since 2007. She is the 2015 Business Professional recipient of the Senior Resource Counsel’s Joe Henjum Award for her commitment to improving the lives of older adults in the Pikes Peak Region. Dr. Gibson is currently an independent consultant, trainer, expert witness, and practitioner providing services to corporations, institutions, and elder individuals worldwide.

Catherine Anne Seal is the senior member in the law firm of Kirtland & Seal L.L.C. in Colorado Springs. Ms. Seal is the Public Administrator for the Fourth Judicial District of Colorado, serving El Paso and Teller Counties. She is the first person ever awarded an LL.M. Degree in Elder Law from the Stetson University College of Law, graduating with honors. Ms. Seal received her law degree from the University of Colorado Law School and holds a Graduate Certificate in Gerontology from the University of Colorado - Colorado Springs. She is a member of the American Bar Association’s Real Property, Trusts and Estate Law Section and is the past chair of the Surrogate Decision Making Committee. Ms. Seal is Immediate Past-President of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and is past-chair of the Guardianship Section and Litigation Section and is a Fellow of the Academy. She is the past-president of the Colorado Chapter of NAELA, and is one of only six attorneys in Colorado designated a Certified Elder Law Attorney by the National Elder Law Foundation. As a member of the Colorado Bar Association, Ms. Seal is a past-Chair of the Elder Law Section. She is the author of Colorado Elder Law, published by Thompson West Publishing as part of their Colorado Practice Series. Her practice is concentrated in the areas of elder law, guardianship and conservatorship, probate, financial exploitation of the elderly, and related matters.
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