It’s a fact that crooks and swindlers have known for years: Seniors are often easier targets for financial predators. Modern science and Neuroscience now tells us why.
A new neurological study from the Georgia Institute of Technology indicates that older people have weaker “clutter control” in their brains. Brain EEG studies indicate that the brain space where seniors go to recall memories becomes very cluttered over time, containing both relevant and irrelevant information. Seniors have more trouble than younger people with brain “clutter control,” or sorting out what is important in their brains from what is not important. This clutter leads to a loss of confidence about memories.
Cluttering of the brain, and the resulting loss of confidence about selecting the correct memories, is a significant reason why older people are more susceptible to manipulation by predators.
Other scientific studies reported by the National Institutes of Health tell us that as brains age, they undergo physiological changes that diminish older people’s ability to assess the trustworthiness of potential predators.
Older people are also more susceptible to dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease, which impair judgment, making them more vulnerable to the predators who may either be strangers to them, or who can lurk within their own close network of family and caregivers.
This new scientific information should help inform professionals, policymakers, and families that senior vulnerability represents an inevitable scientific fact. Many of our seniors need aggressive, consistent, and effective help protecting them from the in-person, telephone, and computer crooks, swindlers, and predators who target them daily. Sadly, the crime of Elder Financial Abuse has grown to a multibillion dollar industry in our country, and will only grow worse without everyone’s focused action.
James T, Strunk J. Arndt J, Duarte A. Age-related deficits in selective attention during encoding increase demands on episodic reconstruction during context retrieval: An ERP study. Neuropsychologia. 2016 Jun: 86:66-79. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2016.04.009. Epub 2016 Apr. 16.