Caring for someone with dementia involves more than just medical care. Your loved one needs financial help too. Seniors with dementia often struggle to stay on top of their finances. This can lead to overspending and overdue bills. Those with dementia are also at an even higher risk when it comes to financial abuse of the elderly. Thieves consider these adults as “easy prey” and assume they have access to large sums of money in their 401(k) or IRA accounts.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to help protect your loved one and their financial future.
1. Become a Co-Signer on Their Bank Account
As a cosigner, you’ll have immediate access to your parent’s finances, including unusual purchases, overspending, or depleted savings accounts. It will also be easier if you ever need to pay their bills or negotiate late payments. You can even ask tellers at your parent’s bank to set-up an alert system when money is withdrawn.
2. Run Their Credit
The three major credit-reporting bureaus let you run a credit check once per year. That means once every four months you can check your parent’s credit. This can help you catch any fraudulent charges and learn about your parent’s financial habits.
3. Try a Prepaid Debit Card
Pre-paid debit cards are a relatively new form of money management for seniors. One such card is Visa’s True Link. You, a child or caregiver, can manage the funds placed on the pre-paid card. Using a website or phone service, you can put limits on ATM-withdrawals and where cardholders can shop or donate money. You can even block all online or over-the-phone shopping. The service costs just $10 per month--a small price to pay for keeping your parents finances intact.
4. Set Up Automatic Bill Pay
Automatic bill pay can make things less stressful. You and your parent won’t have to worry about bill due dates or late payments.
5. Direct Deposit Social Security Checks
Social security checks come at the same time every month. Setting up direct deposit eliminates the possibility of your parent losing or forgetting to deposit their paper check.
6. Understand Who Financial Predators Are
Unfortunately, financial predators can hide in plain sight. They’re not just phone or email scammers claiming to be a grandchild, or prince, or offering a high-return investment. They can take the form of a spouse, a new boyfriend or girlfriend, a new friend, a caregiver in a nursing home, or even a financial advisor. Often these individuals have financial troubles or feel they’re entitled to your parent’s money.
7. Keep Up with the Latest Scams
To defend your loved one against financial crime, you need to know what’s out there. Luckily, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has you covered. Their Fraud Alert page features twice monthly posts covering the latest financial scams, including examples of California financial elder abuse. You can also read more about the top scams targeting the elderly on the National Council on Aging’s website. Read these over and talk about them with your parents.
8. Get Them on the Do Not Call List
Add your loved one’s cell and landline to the National Do Not Call Registry. This can help minimize the number of phishing phone calls they receive. It’s an easy preventative measure that only takes a few minutes to do.
9. Stay in Touch
Being part of your parent’s life can make a huge difference too. Find out how they’re spending their time and if they’ve recently made any new friends. Ask to read through their emails or ask them about their last shopping trip. Getting to know their day-to-day life is perhaps the best way you can protect their finances. Not to mention that it will help boost their emotional health too.