Training & Education

Resources to maximize interview results and protect vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.

Learn to Conduct the Interviews

Some level of training is required by anyone interested in conducting the interviews available here. Training to use the Decision Tracker is available to everyone. The Vulnerability Assessment, however, should be conducted only by a trained certified mental health professional.

Groups or organizations interested in receiving training for either interview should contact Dr. Lichtenberg. He conducts trainings in person, via conference call or webinar. Participants learn the science behind the interview tools and how to administer and score the interviews. Dr. Lichtenberg also consults with organizations to help them understand the problem of financial exploitation and how these interviews can protect their employees and the older clients they serve.

Call 313-664-2633 or use Contact Us to email.


Financial Decision Tracker: Creation & Use

Dr. Peter Lichtenberg describes the research and testing behind his Financial Decision Tracker, a 10-question interview to review how an older adult made a particular financial decision.The Tracker looks for vulnerabilities in financial decision making, so older adults can be protected from exploitation and scams. This webinar, through the National Adult Protective Services Association, details the Tracker's research and testing and how to use it effectively.

59 Minutes

In-depth Research Rationale for Financial Decision Tracker

Dr. Lichtenberg details the science that informs his Financial Decision Tracker for older adults.Learn the factors that exacerbate psychological vulnerability in older adults.Dr. Lichtenberg also outlines the person-centered principles underlying his interview tool. The four pillars of being able to communicate choice, rationale, understanding and appreciation of a financial decision are explained through case studies. This webinar was sponsored by the National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) and the National Committee for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.

1 hour 16 Minutes

Learn by Watching

Dr. Lichtenberg explains the research background and use of his Financial Vulnerability Assessment (named FDRS here). Details are punctuated by excerpts from actual interviews.

26 Minutes

Frequently Asked Questions

Influence or coercion by someone who intentionally uses his or her role and power to deceive and exploit the trust, dependency, and fear of another and gain decision-making control. The influencer uses various techniques or manipulations over time to gain power and compliance. These can be so subtle that the victim doesn't realize he or she is being manipulated. Many cases of financial exploitation result from undue influence.

Some common signs are:

  1. Significant gifts to people like caregivers, service providers and acquaintances outside the usual sphere of the older adult's love and commitment.
  2. Gifts to anyone that are so large they threaten the older adult's economic security.
  3. Loans, particularly if undocumented, to anyone.
  4. The older adult's fiduciary (such as an attorney or trustee) making decisions that reflect poor judgment or conflict of interest
  5. Estate planning documents naming non-family members as fiduciaries or beneficiaries.
  6. Joint accounts with non‑family members.
  7. Checks prepared by others but signed by the older adult.
  8. Bequests or other arrangements favoring one child, particularly if that child lives with the older adult.
  9. Large discrepancies between the older adult's understanding of his or her estate and its true value
  10. Excessive fees charged by professional finance managers such as trustees, attorneys, financial advisors and stockbrokers.

A conservator is a person (family member, friend, or paid professional), agency or institution appointed by the court to make financial decisions for someone a judge has determined is unable to make such decisions.

A guardian is a person (family, friend, or paid professional), agency, or institution appointed by the court to make personal decisions for another. Unlike a conservator, a guardian's authority is often limited by statutes and can also be limited by the judge to specific tasks or decisions based on the retained capacities of the person.

A power of attorney is a legal instrument used to delegate authority to another. The person who signs a power of attorney is called the "principal," and the person granted the authority is delegated is the "agent." A "durable" power of attorney enables the agent to act for the principal even after the principal loses capacity to make decisions, and is effective until revoked by the principal or until the principal's death. A durable power of attorney generally refers to financial decisions and can be an effective alternative to guardianship, allowing an individual to plan for the control of his or her affairs in the event of incapacity.

The law starts with an assumption of capacity, which refers to decision making regarding a number of financial tasks, such as general financial management of assets and debts, writing checks, paying bills, knowing and using currency and coins, making contracts and writing wills.

Financially incapacity means a person is unable to manage their financial resources. This can be the result of a number of conditions including mental illness, dementia, drug use, physical illness and disability. Determination of incapacity is complex. Psychological evaluations, medical reviews, as well as legal standards (that vary from state-to-state) are used in the determination.

Contact us and we can work with you to bring Older Adult Nest Egg to your company or organization. Adult Protective Services employees have already been trained in several parts of the country, and we are collecting data on use of the interview in Virginia, Minnesota and New York. The Michigan Alzheimer's Disease Center has also made the Tracker interview part of its longitudinal study on cognitive changes.

Motivational interviewing tries to change behavior by gently moving a person from indecision and uncertainty and toward making positive decisions and accomplishing established goals. The technique helps people resolve their ambivalence and insecurities through empathetic listening, helping clients become aware of discrepancies between their goals and behavior, avoiding arguments and direct confrontations, and supporting self-efficacy and optimism.The client is central and is guided to generate the arguments and solutions for change.

Have a question we didn't answer? Contact us and we'll get back to you.

Third-Party Resources

Administration on Aging
National Adult Protective Services
Contact to find your nearest state chapter to report suspected abuse or exploitation
Adult Protective Services of Michigan
Alzheimer’s Association
Guidance, education and tools about cognitive assessments and how to determine whether a client needs further evaluation.
American Psychological Association
Office on Aging:
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
For complaints against lenders or financial products and services
Federal Trade Commission (To Report Identity Theft)
Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Older Adults
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
National Council on Aging
National Guardianship Association
National Institute on Aging
US Dept of Justice
Combats financial crimes against older Americans through education about prevalent financial scams and involvement to make communities safer. An Elder Abuse Resource Roadmap guides you to the right agency for your particular situation.
Assessment of Capacity in Older Adults
From the American Bar Association & American Psychological Association, tailored handbooks cover relevant assessment criteria.

Contact Us

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Institute of Gerontology
At Wayne State University

87 East Ferry St.,
Pauline Knapp Building
Detroit, MI 48202

(313) 664-2600