The Season is a Good Time to Check on the Vulnerable
Holiday times can be a reminder that some of us are especially vulnerable to fraud and exploitation. Older adults who live alone and lack close relatives are growing in number—and provide a prime target for scammers.
They have been given labels like “solo agers” and about 14 million Americans fall into this category, according to the U.S. Administration for Community Living. Their numbers continue to increase, reflecting the many adults who never marry, are divorced or become widowed. The proportion grows with advanced age. Almost half the women who are past 75 live alone.
Maybe a solo ager is in your family—perhaps a long-distance parent—and you are going visit her this time of year. Or maybe she is a neighbor you haven’t seen lately. Or a friend you exchange holiday cards with each year. If an isolated person develops problems, such as dementia, she may become subject to many dangers.
“Who will notice signs of physical or cognitive decline and find appropriate help?” asks financial columnist Liz Weston. “Who will pay their bills, vet their financial advisors and monitor their bank accounts? Who will hire and supervise caretakers or research nursing facilities when they can no longer care or themselves?”
Many older individuals are perfectly capable of handling those responsibilities by themselves. But these abilities may decline with age.
STEPS TO PROTECT SOLO AGERS
Fortunately, there are clear steps people can take to protect themselves. They can sign documents to declare their health care wishes if they become incapacitated. They can enlist trusted parties to watch over their finances and safeguard them from fraud. They also may benefit from a service that regularly monitors their financial accounts and flags any unusual activity. Keeping track of such details can be overwhelming for an individual, but a service like EverSafe provides ongoing protection against fraud, scams and financial exploitation.
Solo agers are a large and growing part of America’s population. Does anyone you know fit in that category? Take a moment in this holiday season to see how they are doing. No one should have to face risks to their savings and security by themselves.