About a fifth of doctors and nurses say they are aware that older patients they are seeing are victims of investment fraud or other forms of financial exploitation, according to a survey by the Investor Protection Trust.

The findings suggest that these medical personnel could play a bigger role in preventing such problems by recognizing mild cognitive impairment that can leave older persons more susceptible to such financial abuse, the organization said. Most said they would be interested in education that would help them spot signs of trouble.

It said that doctors and nurses commonly think that such impairment leaves persons more vulnerable and that they are willing to refer their patients to resources that might help them with their financial affairs – or to law enforcement.

The organization said that state securities regulators are working many doctors to educate them about signs of financial abuse and the resources that are available. It likened the condition to a medical issue with symptoms and a recommended course of treatment.