In 2011, more than 25,500 older Americans reported sending $110 million to scammers posing as family members and claiming an injury or arrest in a foreign country. Elderly individuals are more susceptible to scammers who aim to take advantage of seniors’ sometimes impaired mental state or their trusting nature.
Especially if you’re providing in-home care for seniors with dementia, you may be nervous that they could fall victim to fraud and incur serious financial losses. Sunny Days In-Home Care has been providing senior care services in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region since 2006, and our caregivers have witnessed and intercepted many instances of attempted fraud.
We’re offering these four recommendations to protect seniors from scams.
1. Get involved in their personal finances
Assisting in managing your senior loved one’s finances is a great way to monitor activity on their accounts and be on the lookout for anything suspicious. Although time-consuming and frustrating at times, this can be an incredibly helpful preventive step toward keeping them safe. Instead of throwing mail in the trash, offer to shred mail with account numbers or receipts with credit card numbers. If you face resistance from your loved one, explain your concerns and assure them you’re not interested in invading their privacy. In the case of providing in-home care for a senior with dementia, consider taking complete control of their finances, putting both you and your loved one at ease.
2. Caution them against giving out information
Seniors are often more willing to give out their personal information over the phone, making them an especially easy target for scammers. Advise them to never give out personal information over the phone, including obvious things such as social security numbers, account numbers and passwords; Even providing seemingly innocuous details such as their daily routine or family members’ names can leave seniors vulnerable to scams. You can also contact the National Do Not Call registry and take them off of any phone lists that may be deemed dubious.
See top senior phone call scams
3. Visit regularly, and encourage them against making decisions on the spot
Regular visits and general social interaction keep the mind sharp, help to reduce loneliness, and allow family members to ask about any recent events that may raise red flags. You can go a step further by encouraging seniors to resist impulse purchases or ordering items over the phone or online. Advise them to contact a family member before purchasing to ensure that the purchase is trustworthy and secure.
Signs to look for that may indicate your senior is a victim of a scam:
- Unusual changes in their bank accounts, including atypical withdrawals
- Suddenly appear confused or afraid
- Constantly receive sweepstake mailings or “free gifts”, which might mean they are on the “sucker list”
Many scammers are apt at pushing for information to be surrendered instantly, so make sure your loved one is comfortable refusing and is willing to reach out for help in assessing any questionable situations. If you can make yourself available to calls and be patient and helpful during those conversations, your simple presence is among the most powerful and impactful tools to help your senior avoid scammers.
See how you can beat the grandparent scam
4. Consider getting help in providing for in-home care for seniors
All these recommendations are steps toward protecting a loved one. Many individuals are also turning to professional caregivers to help monitor their elderly relatives and help them avoid issues with scammers. Even part-time caregivers can be a tremendous help with running errands and providing personal care, and can also be vigilant to identify a scam. Senior care services in Pittsburgh can be a surprisingly affordable and effective way for people to protect their loved one from a damaging financial scam.
Monitoring your senior’s accounts and assisting with day-to-day tasks can quickly become overwhelming, but acquiring a caregiver for your loved one can help relieve some of that stress. Contact Sunny Days In-Home Care to learn more about the types of care offered, and how Sunny Days can offer you the assistance you need in keeping your senior safe.