The Tennessee Elder Abuse Task Force Final Report reviews research about elder financial exploitation; attempts to estimate the monetary impact of financial exploitation in Tennessee; and considers our state’s approach to identifying and investigating this type of elder abuse. Further, the report lays out the current framework for prosecuting and convicting perpetrators and addresses regulatory gaps and barriers. The report makes several policy recommendations for government stakeholders and the General Assembly to consider as a matter of legislative remedy.
The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s Office of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) developed the following findings.
1. Adult Protective Services has limited statutory authority.
Those who work with elderly and vulnerable adults have expressed concerns about the criteria under which Adult Protective Services (APS) determines whether to investigate cases of elder financial exploitation and have described it as too narrow.
2. Estimating monetary impact proves difficult.
Allegations of elder financial exploitation have significantly increased. Because of several factors, including a lack of data collection by the various regulatory agencies, the OREA report was unable to quantify the prevalence and cost of elder financial abuse in Tennessee.
3. The State’s Infrastructure to protect vulnerable adults is a “patchwork” system.
Sizeable increases in elder financial exploitation reports to APS over the last few years suggest that elder financial exploitation is increasing in Tennessee and reporting and awareness have increased. Conversely, the number of investigations by APS has not increased, suggesting that other entities (e.g., local police, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, District Attorneys, financial institutions) are increasingly responsible for combatting elder financial exploitation.
4. The District Attorney’s report increased prosecution, but more data is needed.
The ability for judicial districts to track case data is inconsistent across the State. Further, there is no state-wide system for districts to input case data that would allow data trending analysis of elder abuse and financial exploitation cases. The number of prosecutions of elder financial exploitation, however, is believed to be on the rise as districts become more familiar with the new laws.