Law enforcement and government officials warn that scams targeting seniors increase around the holidays — such as this holiday scam advisory from the Attorney General of Ohio. People are more in the ‘giving mood’ or more distracted (less guarded) this time of year as well. Help ensure that older adults in your area don’t get taken advantage of — help them avoid financial elder abuse this holiday season and throughout the year.
Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company
- Contact local law enforcement or government officials (such as the city manager or city council members) in your area to see if they’re warning local residents of any specific scams they’re seeing this time of year, particularly those that could easily reach and harm seniors (e.g., is package theft a problem this year in your area? What do they recommend for residents?). Let them know that you’d like to make sure that the seniors you serve are made aware, and will share their information or quotes on your blog. Some may already have this information on their social media profiles or websites — if so, excerpt and link to that information from your newsletter, blog or social profiles to help your clients and their family members.
- Interview a certified financial advisor, certified financial planner, or licensed highly-rated accountant in your area and compile his/her tips to help seniors avoid financial abuse. Or contact a national organization like Elderlife or EverSafe that focuses on seniors’ financial safety and share their top tips.
- Compile information and resources from senior care experts — such as geriatric care managers, social workers, senior care authors, and others — to help those you serve be aware of the scams and forms of financial abuse, how to avoid them, and what to do if they suspect they’ve fallen victim to identity theft, elder abuse or financial scams.
- Content Tips for Senior Living Communities
- Consider hosting an event for your residents (and their family members) that includes a guest speaker from a local financial planning or elder abuse prevention organization. You could compliment this event with a co-branded handout for participants with the key tips in an at-a-glance format and “more info” list of resources they can use to avoid scams and financial elder abuse.
- Be extra vigilant or beware of any external visitors to your community around this time who aren’t there to visit a resident loved one. One senior living community had a visitor who claimed they needed someone to help change their $100 bill into smaller bills — an elder resident overheard the visitor ask at the front desk, took pity on the guest, traded the $100 bill for five $20 bills, and it turned out the $100 bill was a fake (law enforcement had to get involved and the resident’s adult child was very angry with the senior living community for allowing the visitor into the community). As much as you can: prepare your staff to help protect your senior residents from falling victim to such scams.
- Content Tips for Home Care Agencies
- Some families don’t realize that hiring a private in-home caregiver off the Internet (like via Craigslist) or via word-of-mouth — rather than hiring a licensed, bonded agency — can increase the risk of their senior loved one falling prey to financial abuse, theft, or scams in the home. This could be an opportunity to remind your existing clients about the precautions you’ve taken — such as extensive background checks and periodic drug testing of your caregivers — to deliver top-notch service they don’t have to worry about. Or you could do a guest post in a local newspaper or on a site like Patch.com to educate adult children about the dangers of hiring unlicensed contractors rather than a highly-rated agency.
- Consider special training for your caregivers this month — to help them spot the warning signs of financial abuse or scams the senior client may be falling victim to, and remind them of your agency’s protocols for taking action. Then write up a blog post about why you offer this training periodically to your caregivers, why elder financial abuse is a concern this time of year, and how family members can join with you to protect their elder loved ones from holiday scams, identity theft and other financial abuse.
Caring Resources to Support this Spark
- Senior & Caregiving Money Matters — Legal and Financial Tips for Older Adults and their Family Caregivers
Additional Resources to Support this Spark
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — Beware of Scams Targeting Older People During the Holidays
- Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse & Neglect at UC Irvine
- Safety Detective — The Ultimate Internet Safety Guide for Seniors
Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the Content Sparks.
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