‘Terrific Black Holes’: Experiences with Social Services in Elder Family Financial Exploitation

Tina R. Kilaberia, Emma R. Fuhrman, Marlene S. Stum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of social services in responding to elder family financial exploitation (EFFE) is increasingly recognised. This qualitative thematic study draws on the perspectives of fifteen non-victim, non-perpetrator family members who described seeking help from social service entities for older adults who were financially exploited in their families. Four themes illustrated entry point failures, gaps in social services and multidisciplinary collaborations, family-related barriers to help-seeking and positive appraisals of social services professionals. Social response to EFFE is inherently multidisciplinary and extends across a range of private and public service sectors. We discuss boundary work to empower social work’s professional authority in formal service systems as well as its boundary work with the healthcare system, specifically the importance of training in evaluations of older victims’ cognitive status. Implications pertain to areas such as tailored independent social work practice, community practice, social isolation of older victims and attitudinal response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3110-3128
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023


  • elder mistreatment
  • human services
  • multidisciplinary teams
  • social work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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