Wisdom and Scams: Are the Elderly More Likely to Fall for a Scam?


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I'm pretty lucky in that my grandparents on my dad's side of the family "sharp" for their age.  They keep up with current events, my grandma has an iPad (though I'm not sure she knows how to use it), and my grandfather is always on his laptop.  They are still do some of the weird things that old people tend to do, but for the most part, they're the youngest 78 and 79 year olds that I know.

So, while looking for articles, it made me sad to stumble across this particular one because it made me immediately think of my grandparents.  Despite their ability to keep up with society and not hang too much in the past, are they more at risk of being scammed than someone like my sister or I?
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image citation: http://www.trbimg.com/img-50bd0cce/turbine/la-sci-sn-elderly-people-scams-brain-study-201-001/600


The article I'm referring to was published in ScienceMag, but I saw similar articles on various other news sites.  Basically the article makes this very assumption that I was talking about, stating that older people are less likely to spot people who are untrustworthy as a result of a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  They argue that this is mostly because older people tend to see the glass as half full and do not overreact to small problems that a teenager or young adult would.  They are more rational-- but sometimes this lends them to be more naive when it comes to scams.


2 Comments

I do agree that the elderly can be scammed easier. My grandma is constantly telling me stuff that she reads on the internet or in magazines and she thinks just because they are published there that they are true. I constantly try to tell her that not everything she reads is true but she choses to ignore my comments. She is definitely more optimistic and trusts people easier as well, I hope no one ever tries to scam her though.

This is very interesting and something I never really put much thought into! Now that I think about it, though, my grandparents are a lot more likely to think things are just as trustworthy now as they were "back in the day".

I found this article that talks a little bit more about why it happens. One of the big ones I saw was that brain activity in the part of the brain that processes risk and danger is lower in the elderly. It's also interesting to note that it could be because the elderly aren't used to technology (I know my grandmother had us make her a facebook and then asked to delete it because she got so frustrated with the whole thing!) so they may not realize the difference between a scam and the truth.

Needless to say, it really sucks that people are trying to take advantage of the elderly. I really hope my relatives don't have anything happen to them because of a scam.

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