While memory loss is a normal part of the aging process, it can have a significant impact on seniors” lives. It is important to recognize if and when a senior”s memory loss extends to a cognitive disorder such as Alzheimer”s. One must also remember that many seniors are not very alert or vigilant and can easily get emotionally swayed into giving up their money to strangers.
One of the more serious problems from major cognitive impairment or even mild memory loss is that seniors are not able to handle their finances efficiently. They may forget payments, lose checks, ignore or not be aware of suspicious transactions on their credit card and bank account. Even more serious, is the risk of being trapped in a financial scam.
How can you protect your aging parents” hard-earned life savings? These essential steps can help:
1.Power of Attorney: Memory loss, particularly among seniors afflicted by Alzheimer”s can progress very rapidly. Making financial decisions and handling their own finances may be possible for your parent today but you may suddenly find they cannot handle these tasks anymore. Help them establish a Power of Attorney so that someone they trust, perhaps you or one of your siblings, can make both financial and health care related decisions for them when they are unable to do so themselves.
2.Credit Monitoring Service: Help your loved one get annual credit reports from a free service, such as AnnualCreditReport.com. This way they can keep an eye on any transactions they didn”t initiate. If you hear about any new scams, be sure to update your parents and advise them on how to prevent falling prey to these. Caution them to never provide any financial information to strangers.
3.Simplify bookkeeping and financial portfolio management: It can be challenging enough for an aging parent to keep track of utility and grocery bills. Why see them struggle with a complicated, highly diversified portfolio? Help them keep things simple with easier investments. Offer to manage their monthly payments online.
4.Make their identity and coordinates scam-proof: Adding your parent”s phone number to a Do Not Call Registry is one way for them to avoid getting calls from telemarketing companies and scammers. If they use the Internet, talk to them about email security, anti-virus software, keeping passwords secure, having checks in place to block “invites” from strangers on email, Skype, Facebook, etc. Advise them on online banking safety or even how to protect their credit card when using it online or in a physical store.
5.Help them with taxes: Even younger individuals don”t enjoy filing taxes. This is one task you can help your aging parents with and at the same time, ensure the safe filing of their documents and personal identifying information.