Dealing with budgetary matters is hard for anyone. But as we age and technology advances and bill paying methods change, this becomes an increasingly difficult matter for the elderly. As such they often require assistance in paying their bills, budgeting and keeping their money safe from scams.
So first, one should keep tabs on how the elderly are managing. Many youngsters report that for many years they presumed their parents were managing just fine with their finances. But what happens is that at some point they seem to lose track. Just because one’s parents seem to be handling things okay does not necessarily mean they are. Ask to see their bills next time you are there and tell them you want to help make sure they are managing. Really most importantly, be aware of what is going on.
Another way of doing this so as not to step on toes too much, is to set up a direct debit with the bank. This will turn the task into a one-time thing and no one need worry anymore. Of course, as the one to set it up, it is a good idea to check it is all going smoothly once in a while but in general, this facilitates bill-paying for everyone, especially those who have a hard time keeping up.
With that in mind, it’s not a bad idea – especially when parents are still lucid – to set up a power of attorney. That way bills can automatically be sent straight to your home instead of your parents’ immediately removing any stress they could be put under when seeing yet another bill.
Then of course there is the matter of being scammed. Unfortunately the elderly demographic is one of the most likely to be taken advantage of. Indeed, according to the National Institute of Justice website, a national 2007 study of more than 7,000 community residing elders estimated that 1 in 10 senior citizens reported experiencing at least one form of elder mistreatment in the past year. According to an article written by Geoff Williams in Money US News:
“Crime against senior citizens is so pervasive that over the years, elder crime units have cropped up throughout the country in police bureaus, aimed solely at protecting senior citizens.”
Some of the steps you can take is guarding against loneliness: it seems that those who are lonely are more likely to be the subject of scams as they are looking for anyone with whom to strike up a conversation. Increase their access to friends in similar situations. But then there is the issue of the phone, through which most scams seem to occur. As board member of the Home Care Association of America and owner of Caring Senior Service of Amarillo, Bill Archinal notes: “A lot of older people, they don’t want to be rude and just hang up on somebody. They want to let them down nicely or talk to them.”
Make sure your parents never give out personal details, especially Social Security numbers and just warn them about potential scammers. Tell them to act on the side of caution.
There really are many ways the elderly – often a vulnerable demographic – can be helped. It’s just a matter of providing the right access and being aware of their increased frailty that puts them in that demographic.