NPR’s Marketplace has done a thoughtful, engaging investigative series on age-associated financial vulnerability, called “Brains and Losses”. You can click here to listen to the 5-part audio series (Don’t worry — each episode is only about 5 minutes long!). It’s an interesting look at new research involving why we are more prone to financial scams as we age.
Even back in 2015, a well-respected and often-cited study found that Americans lose over $36 billion each year to “elder financial abuse”. The study breaks down those losses in 3 major areas:
- $17 billion from exploitation – Seniors are led to making poor decisions based on confusing language or high sales pressure.
- $12.8 billion from fraud – Seniors fall prey to identity theft or cons to send strangers money.
- $6.7 billion from abuse of trust – Seniors who rely on the guidance of close friends, family or other advisors are deceived by the relationship and bilked out of their money.
It seems obvious that as age-related cognitive abilities decline, seniors become an easier target. In fact, I’ve written about this before. One of the early signs of oncoming cognitive impairment is falling for financial scams.
I’ve Seen This Too Often
I’ve observed the warning signs with my own clients and prospective clients. They ask the same questions again and again. They don’t seem to be absorbing the answers I give to their questions. Sometimes they drop their long-term care insurance (LTCi) policies. In a panic, they – or their kids – later call me, wanting to reinstate the policy. This is not a change of heart, but recognizing that a poor decision was made. And it is heartbreaking to me.
As I began listening to the 5-part audio series, I anticipated I’d be hearing more of these kind of stories. Boy, was I wrong. The series examines and explains so much more!
It turns out that you don’t have to be cognitively impaired to fall victim to these scams. There are a host of other factors that also sets someone up for these traps. Financial vulnerability may also be associated with loneliness, isolation, and impaired physical health.
Have the Conversation
I’ve shared the importance of having the difficult conversations with parents about care in their later years. Talking about financial management is a big part of this.
Here are 4 suggested questions that can get the ball rolling:
- As you get older, what are your spending priorities?
- Do you know what a scam is? What would you do when a stranger calls you, asking for money?
- Who do you trust to help you with your finances? How often do you want to talk to them?
- If you start to start to get a little shaky around these decisions, what do you want us to do for you?
The bottom line: be proactive. Protect yourself, protect your family, by having explicit conversations, now!
A great way to protect the future financial and medical options for you or someone you love is through long-term care insurance (LTCi). To receive your own free, customized no-obligation quote, click here. Let’s start this conversation!