It can be difficult to know how to help our parents as they get older, particularly if they don’t realize they need help or feel comfortable asking for it. That said, there are easy, proactive ways adult children can protect parents from harm.
For instance, your parents could be vulnerable to financial abuse, whether they realize it or not. To help them avoid scams and abusers, you can take the following steps.
Talk to them about common scams
Seniors can be targets for financial abuse because they tend to be more trusting and generous than younger folks. They can also experience memory loss or other conditions that make them more susceptible to abuse. Talk to them about this so they can have a clearer understanding of why they need to be careful.
Further, children are often more tech-savvy than their parents may be. Use this knowledge to help them spot and avoid phone, email and other technological scams. A good place to start includes those on this list. Discuss what they should and should not do when communicating with others on the phone or computer.
Helping them when you are not around
You do not have to be with your parents to protect them. You can provide or create tools to have in their home, including the following:
- A list near the phone of information they should never disclose
- Virus protection on their computers
- Spam filters
- Caller ID
You could also provide a short script of what they should say or write to parties requesting financial information.The script could be as simple as, “I do not disclose personal information over the phone or computer. I will take your contact information and discuss this with my son/daughter/attorney.”
Ensure they have legal resources in place
Numerous legal resources can protect someone from financial abuse. Things like power of attorney can control who has access to and manages a person’s money. Trusts can shield property from being taken by others.
Talk to your parent and make sure they have these and other legal measures to protect them and their money. If you have concerns about your loved one’s financial management or capabilities, you can also consult an attorney to discuss interventions like guardianships to protect them.