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12 Best States for Elder Abuse Protections

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The U.S. population is growing older: In 2017, the Census Bureau predicted that the number of Americans 65 and older would nearly double to 95 million by 2060.

Many people look forward to their proverbial golden years, but for vulnerable older Americans, this period can devolve into a nightmare of physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse, and, sometimes, a combination of these behaviors.

It behooves advisors and client-facing associates to be on the lookout for indications that older clients may be at risk of financial abuse. Firms can establish risk-management policies and procedures for dealing with these sensitive situations.

The personal finance website WalletHub brings this critical issue to the fore by comparing elder-abuse protections across the United States. Its dataset ranges from the volume of elder-abuse, gross-neglect and exploitation complaints to states’ laws dealing with financial elder abuse.

“Falling prey to financial abuse can have dire consequences for anyone, but our older population is particularly susceptible,” WalletHub analyst Cassandra Happe said in a statement. “Abuse can greatly impact their ability to afford basic necessities, especially since many seniors are on a fixed income.”

The Federal Trade Commission recently reported that older adults reported losing more than $1.6 billion to fraud in 2022. But prevalence of abuse — in all its manifestations — may be much higher than official reports indicate.

To determine the states with the best protection against elder abuse, WalletHub researchers compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across these key dimensions: 

  • Prevalence (40 points), including share of elder-abuse, gross-neglect and exploitation complaints and estimated elder fraud rate
  • Resources (30 points), including total expenditures on prevention per resident 65 and older and total long-term care ombudsman program funding per resident 65 and older
  • Protection (30 points), including financial elder-abuse laws and frequency of assisted-living facilities inspections

They evaluated these dimensions using 16 relevant metrics and scored each one on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing the “best protection against elder abuse.”

Finally, they determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score.

See the accompanying gallery for the 12 states with the best elder-abuse protections.