Financial scams involving seniors have become big business, but knowing the warning signs can help you protect the seniors in your life.
Here are some actions you can take to be on your guard.
Take notice if an elderly person has someone new hanging around them all the time or if they don’t want to talk without this new friend present. It could be a sign that someone is exerting control or influence over them. Drop-in and call frequently to keep the lines of communication open and be aware if anything seems amiss.
Give the caregiver a break
Try to periodically give the caregiver some time off for a break. When a caregiver becomes too stressed, financially or emotionally, they are more likely to take financial advantage of the person they are supposed to be taking care of. Be sure to give the caretaker enough time to be sufficiently rested.
Take precautionary banking measures
If you notice that your relative or senior friend is making questionable financial choices, you may need to intervene for their protection. One way to protect them without taking away all of their autonomy is to set up a bank account for them with a debit card and a low spending limit. Keep the bulk of their money in a more secure account and have the statements for both accounts sent to a trusted person for monitoring.
Monitor bill paying
Someone trustworthy should be in charge of paying the bills, and making sure the right amount of money is available for that purpose.
Block phone, email and paper mail solicitations
Pay close attention to contractors or other hired workers
Sadly, there are contractors and other criminals who will seize the opportunity to bilk an elderly person out of a fortune by doing work that doesn’t need to be done or charging an arm and a leg and doing haphazard repairs. Be vigilant about checking the credentials of anyone who is going to be doing paid work for your senior friend.
Have a plan in place
The health status of an elderly person can change rapidly. Make sure arrangements are made for the handling of their finances should they be hospitalized or permanently incapacitated to the point that they can’t adequately handle it themselves. A trusted friend or family member should be given the power of attorney. Know the details of the senior citizen’s health insurance information in order to make decisions if need be.