Well, not actually mine, but I recently read an article about scammers from Jamaica who are taking hundreds of millions of dollars from the elderly.
“Jamaican con artists are defrauding mostly elderly targets by selling them a bogus dream. Millions of dollars, new cars and homes won in lotteries and sweepstakes the seniors never entered, according to victims and law enforcement officials.”
When I was a hospice chaplain, I worked with lots of elderly patients. Many of them were lonely. Many of them were struggling with the emotional aspects of end-of-life issues, and many were dealing with cognitive decline. You put these together and you have someone who has a target on their back. Someone calls who is friendly, takes an interest in them, learns the names of their children, gives them a glowing picture of their future, begins calling several times a day, earns their trust, and the rest is history. They may even begin threatening and using fear, once the bond has been formed. Whatever it takes to gain continued access to the victim’s bank account.
The question of “When do I begin participating in my aging parent’s financial decisions?” ranks right up there with “When do I take away my elderly parent’s keys?” They are, after all, our parents, and stepping in and possibly making them angry is not something any loving child looks forward to. The problem is, if you wait until the catastrophic car accident or the bank account is empty, it is too late.
I would like to suggest that the time to have the discussion is long before it is needed. Just like talking to your kids about drugs before they hit adolescence and rebellion, initiating a conversation with a parent that covers the possibilities and “what-if’s” is much better done before mental decline even begins. The talk might include a family history session including questions about how various relatives handled aging, what they do or do not want to happen to them, reading an article such as the one about the Jamaican scam artists and discussing ways to avoid those issues, etc. In other words, a plan.
No, it won’t make mom or dad more open to handing over the checkbook if dementia leads to paranoia, but if I know that it was what they wanted, it might make it easier to handle their anger and confusion when I have to do it.
Interested in learning about things you can do now to make it less likely that your parent will become a victim of fraud? Sign up here for my mailing list and I will send you “8 Ways to Prevent your Elderly Parents from Being Scammed”.
Have your parents been victims? I would like to hear about it.