Importance of Numeracy as a Risk Factor for Elder Financial Exploitation in a Community Sample

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2016 Nov;71(6):978-986. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbv041. Epub 2015 Jul 29.


Objectives: To examine the role of numeracy, or comfort with numbers, as a potential risk factor for financial elder exploitation in a community sample.

Method: Individually administered surveys were given to 201 independent, community-dwelling adults aged 60 and older. Risk for financial elder exploitation was assessed using the Older Adult Financial Exploitation Measure (OAFEM). Other variables of interest included numeracy, executive functioning, and other risk factors identified from the literature. Assessments were completed individually at the Wood Lab at Scripps College in Claremont, CA and neighboring community centers.

Results: After controlling for other variables, including education, lower numeracy was related to higher scores on the OAFEM consistent with higher risk for financial exploitation. Self-reported physical and mental health, male gender, and younger age were also related to increased risk.

Conclusions: Results indicated that numeracy is a significant risk factor for elder financial exploitation after controlling for other commonly reported variables. These findings are consistent with the broader literature relating numeracy to wealth and debt levels and extend them to the area of elder financial exploitation.

Keywords: Elder mistreatment; Numeracy; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Deception*
  • Elder Abuse*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Independent Living
  • Male
  • Mathematical Concepts*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors