Reflective Functioning and Financial Exploitation Vulnerability in Older Adults: The Importance of Significant Others

Gali H. Weissberger, Yoav S. Bergman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Financial exploitation of older adults results in devastating economic, social, and psychological losses to older adults, their families, and society at large. This study examined the relationship between reflective functioning and financial exploitation vulnerability (FEV) and whether relationship status moderated the association. Methods: A community-based sample of 156 Israeli older adults age 60 and over responded to demographic questions and questionnaires assessing reflective functioning and FEV. Results: A hierarchical linear regression analysis covarying for age, sex, education, income, and sum of illnesses, revealed that higher reflective functioning was associated with lower FEV (p =.011). A main effect of relationship status was not found, but a significant interaction of reflective functioning × relationship status was discovered (p =.008), adding 4.2% to the total variance of the model. Probing the interaction revealed that the reflective functioning-FEV association was significant only for older adults not in a relationship. Conclusions: Findings suggest that low reflective functioning may be associated with increased risk of financial exploitation, specifically in certain populations of older adults. Clinical Implications: Care providers of older adults may consider assessing for, and identifying older adults with low reflective functioning, in order to prevent or intervene in the event of a potentially exploitative situation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Early online date22 Feb 2024
StateE-pub ahead of print - 22 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Financial exploitation
  • mentalizing
  • older adults
  • reflective functioning
  • relationship status
  • theory of mind


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