Understanding Financial Elder Abuse in Families: Exploring the potential of Routine Activities Theory

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Setterlund, Deborah, Tilse, Cheryl, Wilson, Jill, McCawley, Anne-Louise and Rosenman, Linda (2007) Understanding Financial Elder Abuse in Families: Exploring the potential of Routine Activities Theory. Ageing and Society, 27 (4). pp. 599-614. ISSN 0144686X


The aim of this paper is to stimulate theoretical thought about financial elder abuse within families, by exploring the potential of ‘routine activities theory’ for raising our understanding of, and response to, its occurrences. Research into financial elder abuse, defined as the illegal or improper use of a person's finances or property by another person, has tended to emphasise the abusive event and the associated risk factors. ‘Routine activities theory’, in contrast, directs attention more to developing prevention strategies that focus on everyday activities and hence seek to reduce the opportunities for illegal activity. The authors' research programme on the broad topic of money management and older people in Australia has conceptualised financial elder abuse as one possible outcome of the family management of older people's assets. This paper reports an application of routine activities theory to in-depth data of the asset-management practices and experiences of 81 family members who were assisting 86 older people. The paper concludes that the theory contributes to our understanding of how and why financial abuse occurs in families. It makes clear the distorting influence of a sense of entitlement and the preventive importance of both capable guardians, to oversee family-asset management and be alert to mismanagement, and the need for improved financial awareness, skills and probity in the community in connection with this common task of assisting older people to manage their financial assets.

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Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/3402
DOI 10.1017/S0144686X07006009
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1502 Banking, Finance and Investment
Historical > FOR Classification > 1607 Social Work
Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Current > Division/Research > Other
Keywords ResPubID14364, financial elder abuse, family care, asset management, routine activities theory
Citations in Scopus 37 - View on Scopus
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