When abuse of older patients is financial

The New York Times, March 3, 2011
Doctors with older patients hear clues all the time. Elderly people mention, in passing, that they are missing money or that they signed forms they did not understand. Or maybe they can't find a treasured possession like a watch or a wedding ring. But doctors traditionally have not been trained to recognize that confusion or forgetfulness can be signs that the patient is at financial risk, said Robert W. Parker, MD chief of community geriatrics in the family medicine department at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. "We give them another pill, device or test. We don't always spend time with patients so we get to know their concerns," said Parker. "And medical doctors have not wanted to mix medicine and money." But now he, along with thousands of other doctors and medical professionals across the country, are taking part in a new effort to screen older patients for financial vulnerability as well as indications they are being exploited financially by family members, friends or strangers.

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