By Liz Loewy, EverSafe General Counsel
There is no doubt about it - America is aging. Ten thousand Americans turn 65 every day. By 2050 one-fifth of the U.S. population will be 65 and older. While a longer lifespan provides more time to work, play, travel and be with family and friends – it also can result in increased occurrences of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, those who suffer from age-related cognitive impairment are more vulnerable to fraud, scams and identity theft. There are things that you can do today, however, to decrease your vulnerability in the future.
Talk About It
Experts agree that talking about issues related to aging with trusted family members and professionals, before a crisis hits, can make a big difference. Making sure that this conversation covers an array of subjects, including health care, estate planning, and financial management, can save a good deal of anxiety and heartache down the road.
While the prospect of initiating this conversation may feel somewhat daunting, it’s usually easier than expected. Avoid the natural tendency to procrastinate. In cases of elder fraud, younger family members have expressed remorse that they didn’t address important issues with older relatives sooner.
Your family conversation can start with the simple goal of making an emergency contact list for both you and your adult children. Your list may include the following service providers:
The information exchange should go both ways which will keep the conversation on equal footing and be helpful if either party needs assistance.
Plan for the Unexpected
Once an emergency contact list is created, you may wish to discuss issues such as health care directives in the event of a medical crisis. Both adult children and their parents face the possibility of becoming debilitated, and unable to make decisions, at some point in their lives. Planning for this kind of contingency might include a conversation about whether a trusted relative or friend should be appointed durable power of attorney, which would enable him or her to handle one’s affairs in the event of incapacity.
There are two measures you can take to protect yourself, and your family members, from fraud and identity theft.
Stay current on the latest scams. Make every attempt to educate yourself and loved ones about current scams. Never divulge personal information in response to an email or phone call from a stranger, even if the person requesting it claims to represent the IRS or a major company like Microsoft.
Monitor your assets. Experts agree that financial monitoring can play a fundamental role in safeguarding funds. Consider using a service that enables you to designate a trusted individual to view financial accounts and credit reports online, in read-only format, and receive alerts if suspicious activity occurs.
Liz Loewy is General Counsel at EverSafe, a technology company focused on the prevention of financial exploitation and identity theft in later life. Ms. Loewy was formerly the founding Chief of the Elder Abuse Unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where she served as trial counsel in the case involving the late Brooke Astor.
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