Seniors increasingly find themselves in a world that is more complicated and noisy than ever before. Technology is increasing in complexity at a rate far faster than they, or anyone else, can reasonably expect to understand. And unfortunately, many people out there are using that technology and the information that can be found easily on the Internet to try to scam elderly and uncertain people out of money.
You hear it every day on the news. Someone somewhere is calling seniors in the area and convincing them that they’ve won a contest or that they represent a company that needs credit card information to pay for some service or item that the senior has committed to purchasing. Many seniors fall victim to these ploys.
Sometimes, it is because their memories have begun to fail, and they are used to forgetting things like bills. They assume that if someone is calling them and saying that they owe money, then they must have forgotten to pay a bill. Increased gullibility and susceptibility to fraudulent offers over the phone and in the mail is also an early sign of neurological disorders like dementia. Regardless of the cause, the root problem is that uncertainty increases as a person ages. If they are uncertain enough about the world around them, they can likely be talked into doing just about anything.
How do you deal with an aging parent or relative who insists on giving out personal information to strangers? The best way to deal with them is to talk to them. Often, aging parents or relatives are responding to offers that are obviously fraudulent. Find out why your loved one is responding to offers and phone calls without thinking, and suggest simple solutions like having them contact you first so you can check if what they are responding to seems legitimate. Be open and try not to make them feel embarrassed if they do not make a mistake. Explain that scam artists are common and that everyone falls for a trick sooner or later.
At some point, however, managing your loved one’s uncertainty may become too much for you to bear on your own. They may become uncooperative and start giving out personal information without consulting you or hiding things from you. You cannot be there with them all of the time to assist them. Once their uncertainty becomes too much to handle, you may consider in-home care as a feasible solution. Having a professional in the house frequently to monitor the mail and phone calls can make everyone more comfortable.