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May 17, 2023

Technology and the Future of Elder Abuse-Good or Bad

Chase Davidson

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Technology plays a significant role in every aspect of human existence, including elder abuse. Elder abuse takes many forms, including physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Examining whether technology is contributing to elder abuse or impeding elder abuse is complex due to the multitude of variables that are involved. Technology contributes to elder abuse by increasing the risk of financial exploitation, but it also impedes elder abuse by increasing older adults' mental health and adding innovative, informational systems meant to curb elder abuse.

As technology has advanced, so has the use of technology in financial exploitation of older adults. Online scams and electronic banking fraud disproportionally target older adults. A majority of victims reporting electronic fraud are white women, 75 years of age and older (Greene, 2022). Additionally, the FBI estimates that older adults lose more than  3 billion dollars every year to financial scams, with the main methods of contact being over the phone and online (Gill, 2022). The advanced technology of the 21st century makes it harder to protect older adults from some of the deceptive financial cons that can get to you from anywhere in the world if you are using a device that connects to the internet.

While technology is extending financial exploitation, it can also be used to diminish financial exploitation. This takes place in many forms, including AI software for tracking spending patterns, blocking robocalls and filtering emails (Greene, 2022). Digital safeguards can be implemented to curb some of the financial exploitation; however, it is imperative that future technological projects and evolving reforms should be centered around education, prevention, monitoring, screening, and reporting.

Older adults suffer from numerous hardships that are attributed to a decline in mental health or neurocognitive ability, an increase in bereavement, a drop in socioeconomic status, and an increased risk of loneliness. The most obvious way that technology benefits older adults' mental health is the accessibility of communication. Social media apps and videoconferencing help decrease loneliness and social isolation. Technology can also be used to facilitate online workouts to get older adults to be more active and slow physical decline. Additionally, phone games can be enjoyable, decrease anxiety and depression, and help keep the mind sharp. A recent study published by the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that “the more often people test their minds using mental games, the lower their chances of developing significant neurological issues, such as dementia” (McLean, 2022). Mental health is crucial, especially for older adults, and technology can help people prioritize their mental health.

One of the biggest obstacles with elder abuse is that it is under reported. Technology can be a promising solution for older adults as it has the capabilities to spread awareness and help identify elder abuse, which is essential due to the subtle and deceptive nature of elder abuse. In 2018, Yale researchers created a digital screening tool called VOICES, or “Virtual cOaching in making Informed Choices on Elder Mistreatment Self-Disclosure.” The tool was created for use on tablet devices and “combines multimedia presentations and virtually guided interviews to educate and empower older adults” (Locklear, 2022). The self-administered screening tool teaches older adults the different forms of elder abuse and how to identify abuse. The screening tool also encourages and teaches older adults ways to self-disclose if they are experiencing elder abuse. The project is particularly unique because it puts the information and screening in the hands of older adults, and helps healthcare workers measure abuse and provide statistical data. While this project still needs additional testing, the project is a look into the promising future of technology being used to lessen elder abuse.

As society evolves, so do the problems that society faces. The problem of elder abuse that older adults face is also evolving in light of recent technological advancements. While technological advancements pose additional risks to older adults, especially regarding financial exploitation, technology can be used to facilitate safeguards to protect older adults financially. Technology can also be used to combat some of the challenges that come with being an older adult, like a decrease in functional ability and an increased risk of loneliness. In the future, technology can be used to create digital educational screening tools, like VOICES. While technology poses additional risks, if used properly, technology can be a powerful tool to fight elder abuse and have an immensely positive impact on older adults. 

Top Five Tips to Avoid a Financial Scam or Fraud

  1. If payment is by pre-paid gift card, or crypto currency (bit-coin) it is a scam or fraud, don’t pay.
  2. Check the sent from email address, if it does not match what usually comes from that organization, it is a scam or fraud.
  3. Don’t call them back at the number they send you.  Look up a number you know is correct and call it.
  4. If there is urgency or pressure, it is probably a scam or fraud.
  5. Put spam blockers on your phone.  

Works Cited

Gill, Mark. “Senior Scam Statistics 2023: Is Elder Fraud on the Rise?” Comparitech, 7 Oct. 2022, Retrieved 24 Mar. 2023, from

Greene, Aaron J. Elder Financial Abuse and Electronic Financial Instruments: Present and Future Considerations for Financial Capacity Assessments. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, vol. 30, no. 1, Jan. 2022, pp. 90–106, Retrieved 26 Feb. 2023, from

Locklear, Mallory. Point of Care: Digital Health Tool Aims to Empower Victims of Elder Abuse. YaleNews, 18 Feb. 2022, Retrieved 19 Feb. 2023, from

McLean. How Technology Helps Older Adult Mental Health. McLean Hospital. 7 Oct. 2022, Retrieved 26 Feb. 2023, from

NCOA. The National Council on Aging, 23 Feb. 2021, Retrieved 7 Mar. 2023, from

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