How to Keep Aging Parents and Loved Ones Safe Financially

how to keep aging parents

There comes a time in many of our lives when we need to step up and start caring for our aging parents and loved ones. It can be daunting, but it is necessary. After all, they spent all those years taking care of us when we were young, so it is only right to return the favor. When caring for a senior, it is more than just ensuring that their home is secure and that they are safe while getting around because you also need to consider their financial security.  

Whether you are watching over them personally or you have hired a caregiver or a nursing home, it is still important that you keep tabs on their money and their important documents, so they are not taken advantage of by hackers and other criminals looking to make a quick buck. To help you out, we have created this guide on how to keep aging parents and loved ones financially safe.

Keep Documents Safe

Even if your loved one is not yet in the care of a nursing home or caregiver and they are still pretty good at taking care of themselves, you should check in. Not only can you ensure that they are physically safe, but you can also keep an eye out for potential scams that they may not fully comprehend. 

For instance, criminals can create online scams where they promise a free gift or prize if the visitor signs up, but these are fake promotions, and the personal information that the victim provides can be used to take out fraudulent loans. For that reason, you must keep a watchful eye and educate your loved ones whenever possible.

The fact is that hackers only need to get their hands on one confidential document to steal a good chunk of money. Sometimes they don’t even need to be a hacker but instead someone who simply steals mail out of physical mailboxes. Hackers can also use the senior’s information to forge fake financial documents, and if successful, a copy may be sent to your loved one’s home. For that reason, you should review the mail and email they get and ensure that everything is in order. If anything seems amiss, then you need to contact the agency listed on the letterhead and/or the police.

Identity fraud is just one of the many forms of financial abuse that can take place when seniors are no longer able to manage their money. Criminals can also steal the funds that are in their Medicare accounts. If a criminal starts using their Medicare ID, then not only could they drain the account and use the money for themselves, but by mixing their medical information with that of your loved one, your loved one’s health could also be put at risk. 

To protect against this type of fraud, make sure that their Medicare card is always in a secure place and sign up for email alerts so you can find out immediately if this information is being used maliciously.

Caregiver Fraud

While we typically believe that only total strangers are capable of financial abuse, more often than not it can be people we know, and that includes caregivers. While most really want to help their clients live a healthy and happy life, some can cause harm by gaining the trust of your loved one and then stealing their money or possessions. That is why you must run an extensive background check before hiring a potential caregiver.

In addition to that initial precaution, you should also take proper steps to protect the money and valuables of your aging parents and educate them on what to do when you are not around. For instance, they should hide and secure all valuables, so they are not in plain sight. If you want to be extra safe, you could place security cameras in the kitchen, bedroom, and near the front door, so if anything ever does go missing, you can figure out what occurred.

In the case your caretaker is also responsible for buying groceries or cleaning supplies, you should limit the funds that they can access. Providing them with blank checks or a credit card with an extensive limit is a bad idea. Instead, you can give them a prepaid debit card, so they only have the money necessary to make those purchases, and if they need more, then they have to come to you first.

Avoid Scams in Nursing Homes

While senior care facilities are typically safe places with caring nurses who only want the best for their residents, financial scams and crimes can still take place. Just like with caregivers, you should educate your loved ones about the signs of a malicious staff member, including missing money or possessions from the room or a nurse suddenly asking for you to sign unexpected and unfamiliar financial documents. If there is ever any suspicion, then request a meeting with a manager at the establishment.

However, many times hackers or cybercriminals are often the culprits. They make it a point to target nursing homes because they know that the residents pay a lot of money with their pensions, social security, and annuity payments to secure their spots every month. These malicious actors can trick administration personnel with phishing scams and by uploading viruses so they can siphon that money to their accounts. 

If you are helping your loved one choose a nursing home, then take the time to interview the management before signing up and ask them what safeguards they have in place to prevent cybercrime. If they don’t have a good answer, then you may want to look elsewhere.

There are safeguards that you should make on your own as well, such as providing the facility with direct deposit payments of the exact amount owed instead of sending physical paper checks that can be stolen via mail fraud. Also, avoid a scenario where the nursing home becomes the patient’s representative payee, which means that they get social security and retirement payments sent directly to them on the resident’s behalf. This electronic transfer makes it very easy for cybercriminals to intervene. Keep the nursing home out of it and instead handle these financial matters yourself.

In the end, the chance of financial abuse is just too great for you to stand idly by. Instead, consider the advice and tips discussed here so you can have confidence that the money is safe and instead focus on the health and happiness of your aging parent.

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Article Author Details

Charlie Fletcher

Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer living in the pacific northwest who has a variety of interests including sociology, politics, business, education, health, and more.