San Diego State University is a leader in the fight to recognize, prevent and rectify elder abuse in the United States.
The university's efforts were recently recognized by the Huguette Clark Family Fund for Protection of Elders, when the organization made its first pair of grants to combat the growing national problem of elder abuse. The SDSU Research Foundation received a grant, along with the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging.
A grant — totaling $26,000 — was awarded to SDSU to develop financial training for Adult Protective Services (APS) workers. The program will make online courses on financial exploitation and undue influence accessible to APS workers.
"Financial abuse is complex type of crime," said Lori Delagrammatikas, program manager for SDSU's Multidisciplinary Adult Services Training for Evaluation and Results program.
"It constitutes everything from holding a gun to someone's head and taking money, to undue influence to identity theft. Seniors are very vulnerable to the latter, and because it’s a complex subject, there needs to be more training for professionals on how to prevent it and how to identify it when it's taking place."
Delagrammatikas and a team of researchers from SDSU's School of Social Work are developing an interactive, online training program that combines games and real-life scenarios to encourage Adult Protective Services workers to recognize and take appropriate steps to address the various types of financial exploitation.
The curricula will also feature authentic case vignettes that show the nature of the issue. Participants will respond to the cases and be tested on how they would handle the situation. The software will allow participants to be scored on how well they respond to each case, rather than receiving a "right" or "wrong" answer.
The program is expected to be completed this fall.
About the Huguette Clark Family Fund
The Huguette Clark Family Fund for Protection of Elders is a donor advised fund created by members of the Clark Family to honor their aunt, who died in 2012. It is operated by The New York Community Trust, one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the United States.
The fund supports innovative organizations and programs that seek new strategies to fight the financial abuse of elders, which frequently includes emotional and psychological manipulation by the professionals and institutions entrusted with their care.