Aug 2014

What Are The Financial Risks The Elderly Face When Living Alone?

Assisted Living , Senior Care     no comments    

It can be easy to overlook the financial risks the elderly face when living alone, especially when considering the more obvious emotional and physical risks. Don’t forget, the financial risks can be just as serious and shouldn’t be ignored. As their mental and physical abilities decline with age, seniors can become easy targets for financial scams and fraud. They can also lose the ability to responsibly manage their finances.


Fraud can take place over the phone, through mail, or face-to-face. Some common scams to watch out for involve prizes and sweepstakes, investments, charity contributions, health and life insurance, home repairs and travel packages. Some offenders will use their charisma or false concern for the senior’s well-being to gain trust.  Others may rely on the trusted bond of a financial planner or annuity agent to gain the trust of the elderly, and then they make false representations regarding the senior’s finances and retirement funds. If your loved one mentions winning a prize or any other one of these common scam opportunities, be aware and look into it immediately.

Even if your loved one does not fall victim to a financial scam, they may still need additional assistance if they cannot manage their financial affairs responsibly. These are several red flags you can look for which may mean that your elderly loved one is mishandling their finances.

  • Unopened mail is piling up in their house: If you are noticing large piles of unsorted and unopened mail that appear to be bills and statements from mortgage and credit card companies, it could be a warning sign that your senior is physically or mentally incapable of accomplishing the monthly task of paying bills.
  • They are forgetful about cash: Have you noticed your loved one forgetting how much cash they have and when they go to pay for something they realize they don’t have enough money? You may also find stacks of undeposited checks lying around their house. This could be a sign that they cannot physically make the trips to the bank or ATM to deposit checks and take out cash, or that they cannot mentally keep track of their day to day expenses.
  •  Creditors are calling repeatedly: You can check the phone logs to see if creditors have been making repeated phone calls to your loved one. These calls may be from credit card companies or from household help, and can be a sign that your senior is not paying their bills in a timely fashion.
  • They are making expensive new purchases: While your loved one has the right to splurge occasionally, you should pay attention if they continue to make numerous expensive purchases. This excessive spending can be a sign of impaired judgment or memory loss, which can be an early sign of dementia.
  • They are complaining about not having enough money: If your loved one is constantly bringing up the high cost of living expenses, it may be a sign that they are having difficulty managing their finances on their own. You may observe subtle hints that money is tight, such as declining invitations to go to eat or skipping home repairs.
  • They are physically unable to complete daily financial tasks: Remember that daily tasks that were once simple can become unmanageable for the elderly if their physical state is deteriorating. Vision and mobility challenges can make it difficult for them to go to the bank on a regular basis, while arthritis can make writing checks and addressing envelopes challenging.

To learn about other signs that may indicate your senior needs more assistance, you can download our free eBook.

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