How to Help Prevent Elder Fraud

What is elder fraud? It’s when unscrupulous people take advantage of senior citizens. It affects nearly 40% of those of us over the age of 65, and the loss is over $36 billion annually.

How does it occur? Some of it is going on right under your nose. It includes things that don’t necessarily have to be confusing for seniors, such as misleading financial advice, hidden fees or subscriptions, or even fake dietary products. Here are a few things you need to know.

The 3 Main Types of Elder Fraud

  1. The largest type of fraud is financial exploitation. It’s the cause of nearly $17 billion in annual losses to seniors. Much of this comes as junk mail or unsolicited telemarketing. Scammers defraud seniors by getting consent to take their money.
  2. Seniors lose another $13 billion because of criminal fraud. At the top of the list is identity theft.
  3. Tragically, caregiver abuse contributes another $7 billion in annual losses to seniors. This is not physical abuse. It’s when a trusted person uses their relationship with a senior to inappropriately use finances or even outright steal money.

Who’s Most at Risk?

You might think that seniors with memory issues are the biggest victims of elder fraud. Statistics may surprise you.

  • Studies have shown that thrifty seniors are 5 times more likely to be at risk because they’re attracted by the bargains that get pitched to them by scammers.
  • Ironically, extremely friendly and sociable seniors are 4 times more likely to be defrauded. Experts believe this is because they’re more approachable and tend to give strangers the benefit of a doubt.
  • Even financially sophisticated seniors are at risk. Experts have discovered these seniors tend to lose more due to fraud because they’re comfortable with larger amounts of money.
  • Seniors who receive one or more telemarketing phone calls a day are 3 times more likely to experience a financial loss due to fraud than someone who only gets an occasional telemarketing phone call.

Prevention

The easiest way to keep elder fraud at bay is to check on a senior’s financial situation regularly. There are enough scams to worry about already, but it’ll be in your best interests to start paying attention to those that are particularly aimed at seniors.

You can cut down on telemarketing and potential scams by helping seniors sign up for the National Do Not Call registry. It’s a free service provided by the Federal Trade Commission. You can register online or call 888-382-1222.

Just What Is a Residential Care Home, Anyway?

There are a growing number of options for senior citizens when they reach the point where it’s not wise to be without assistance. The most obvious option is a nursing home, but that really may not be necessary yet.

Many seniors simply need some help. For them, there’s the option of a residential care home. Here’s what a residential care home is, and why this option deserves your consideration.

Right Under Your Nose

Is your idea of a nursing home a large building on a grassy campus somewhere out in the country? That description may fit a number of nursing homes, but you’ll generally find them scattered in both urban and suburban areas.

What might surprise you about residential care homes is that you’ll find them right in the middle of residential neighborhoods. There could be one not far from your home. That’s because residential care homes are exactly what their names say. They are private residential homes that that provide care to small groups of senior citizens. The size of the home determines how many seniors reside there. In California where residential care homes are plentiful, most have 6 or less residents.

Less, But More

Traditional nursing homes generally provide high levels of care for residents, provided by skilled nursing professionals. Assisted living facilities offer the least care for residents. Residential care homes tend to fall in between. They offer more comprehensive and personalized care because the staff is responsible for just a few residents.

Residential care homes can offer high levels of care for chronically ill seniors, or they may offer only general supervision and help with the activities of daily living. It’s up to the owners, and it’s why it’s important to find out exactly what a residential care home’s range of services is before you make a decision.

Best For

People often ask who would enjoy or benefit most from living in a residential care home. They are a wise option for seniors who strongly oppose the idea of a large, institutional type of living situation such as a nursing home.

Residential care homes offer older adults the ability to live relatively independent lives. They may not be able to live completely on their own, but they still value the ability to make decisions about things like shopping, dining out, going for walks, or even having friends and family visit.

Older adults with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia also benefit from living in a residential care home. Living in a smaller place, say, the size of a residential home, can cause less anxiety and stress. Residents also get more personalized care because staff members get to know their specific needs.

They say you can’t pick the family you’re born into—but as you grow older you can select a group of people to live with who can surround you with the benefits of a family. That’s the idea behind a residential care home.