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“Elder financial abuse is not only about financial exploitation: It is a major public health problem,” he said. “I am an epidemiologist and what we are looking at here qualifies as an epidemic.”

Mr. Lachs said senior citizens who are defrauded of their life savings have a risk of dying that is three times higher than it otherwise would be.

“It’s just a huge problem,” he said. “When older Americans are financially exploited and there are no resources left for their care, these individuals effectively become wards of the state. In these cases, all Americans end up paying.”

“Older adults that are financially exploited weigh heavily on our system of public entitlements at a time when the system is already very much strained,” he said.