• Karen McPhail

Preventing Elder Fraud

Elder fraud is a challenge for many across our country and is sadly even more of an issue during Covid-19. As always proactive planning is key! Safeguard programs and other proactive preventative measures can be put in place to prevent and limit elder fraud. However, other aspects and the true nature of what makes an individual a viable target also need to be considered along the way. Many competent, intelligent individuals are taken in daily by scammers and sadly competent people can and at times do make poor choices. In an attempt to safeguard and support an individual properly, one must effectively evaluate and put in place individualized interventions. With this approach often times the dysfunctional cycle can be broken.

1. Fostering Connections and Positive Relationships

Older adults with strong friendships and community involvement are less likely to be isolated or lonely — traits that increase an elder’s risk of being taken advantage of. Everyone has a need for community, socialization, and purpose even those who are more introverted. This is especially important as people grow older and feel often times scared or fearful due to changes associated with aging. Helping individuals to make positive personal connections routinely will limit them in connecting with potential predators.

2. Setting the Stage for Active Participation, Engagement, and Involvement

Like every adult, older adults need to feel a sense of purpose, have a routine, and be engaged! Keeping older adults active and engaged is important as they are less likely to reach out to potential predators due to loneliness, boredom, or the need for social engagement or friendship. Help the individual to make and form positive functional friendships and connections.

3. Knowledge is key! Educate Well and Reinforce Information Often!

Educate individuals on the risks of online chat rooms and social media. Help them to set parameters for safety for internet use and other platforms. Encourage and reinforce this over time. Be proactive as one is more open to education and guidance before having an episode of fraud occur which can then lead to embarrassment, withdrawal, and more challenges.

4. Staying Well

In addition, older adults in poor physical health are more vulnerable to being taken advantage of. Increased dependence may lead to more family caretaker stress and burnout, raising the risk of elder abuse. Physically active seniors reduce their loss of mobility and increase overall health and functionality making them less of a target.

5. Forming Holistic Support and Fostering Trust

When older adults have social support and loved ones involved in their lives and feel comfortable talking with them it makes a big difference and stops potential problems. Having people who are approachable and positive helps individuals to have trust and feel supported. Transparent communication is the key to preventing many problems and helping individuals to be best supported. Some older adults who do not have family or social support may benefit from more frequent checks from a care manager or even online counseling or support groups to give them an outlet for feelings, emotions, and provide routine supportive resources.

6. Additional Resources and Supportive Programs

Set up a mutually beneficial and supportive program to safeguard funds and prevent elder fraud. This can be done through a number of organizations and approaches. A daily money manager can be a terrific start! Reach out today if you require more information on the best approach to take!

Community programs and resources for the older adults and their loved ones can provide family members with financial and emotional support, caregiving education, and breaks for personal time, reducing stress. Having safe connections will limit individuals in often connecting with potential predators or in being taken advantage based on need for attention, friendship, or purpose.

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