Very often, the role of a family caregiver is a blend of a doctor, maid, advisor and even an amateur detective. Elderly people are gullible and get regularly fleeced by smooth talking sales persons. The elderly are fiercely protective of their finances and how they use them. However, often they make wrong decisions about where to spend their money. Therefore, you as the family caregiver have to look after this aspect and see that their limited resources will tide them over as long as possible.
Many senior citizens have become the victims of scams and smooth talking salespersons who sell them a hope and a dream in exchange for their money. These salespersons are constantly calling or emailing old people in the hope of getting a fast buck. If the elders become victims of a scam, it is something they try to hide from their caregivers. You as a caregiver may never know if they hav
e been ripped off, and they will never tell you about it. Hence, you have to assume the role of an amateur detective to find out about such episodes and take steps to rectify the situation as much as possible. There may be some things you can observe to find out if your parents are victims of scams:
- Watch out for your parents’ mail. If they receive large amounts of junk mail with get rich quick schemes, or phony contests, etc., it is possible that they may have become a victim of some scam.
- Spend some time at your parent’s home and answer the phone there. If there are a large number of calls from charities or scam offers, then their names have got passed around to other such scam artists.
- If you see a lot of junk items lying around your parents’ house, then you can be sure that they have been ripped off.
- Begin paying attention to their budget. There may be some problem with the bank account, or too many checks to con artists. Check out the credit card statement as well.
- Check out the ‘sent folder’ in the email account to verify any response to scam email schemes.
Your elderly parents are very often defensive of their financial activities and will resent your interference in their affairs. It takes some amount of gentle coaxing and convincing to let you see the documents. Getting involved in bogus contests or get rich quick schemes is addictive and your elderly parents are no exception to this.
In spite of losing thousands of dollars to such scams, they will still get cheated by the next crook who manages to convince them, because they are addicted to it. You need to be gentle and understanding to approach the problem and find a solution. As a caregiver, you must convince your elderly parents to let you handle their finances. You can start by handling their taxes and once they are comfortable with the idea, you can offer to take over the bill payment and manage the checkbook. Later, you can begin gently questioning the expenditure that looks suspicious to you. Do not try to get back any lost money, however, be vigilant enough to prevent any unfamiliar person from getting access to the money.
Cancel all the direct debits that are not easily identifiable. Start getting a control over the phone calls, junk mail and emails. In other words, you have to play the role of a guard dog to protect your parents from scam artists and con men out to fleece them of their money.