Family caregivers might need to hire assistance while caring for a loved one. Finding in-home care can be a complicated journey especially when you consider the older adult’s safety. AARP recently released an article that highlights tips for protecting older adults from caregiver fraud.
- Secure valuables, cash, and cards: Create an inventory of all the valuables in the house, including photo or video records of items and a list of where they are stored. Keep smaller items like jewelry locked up at all times. Limit an in-home aid’s access to their charge’s cash, checkbooks, and credit cards. If their job includes buying groceries or running errands for the older person, consider giving them prepaid debit cards for the purpose, so they can spend only up to the loaded amount.
- Be present: Check-in regularly with both the caregiver and the care recipient to monitor the quality of service and see how the relationship is developing. If you live far away, ask a trusted friend of your loved one to pop in at least once or twice a month.
- Use technology: If your loved one will allow it, install a doorbell video camera on the front door. Video cameras in common areas like the kitchen or living room can provide additional monitoring and theft protection, but make sure to follow your state’s laws on the use of security cameras to supervise people working in your home.
- Monitor transactions: Contact your loved one’s bank or credit union to arrange “view only” access to their accounts, or sign them up for a monitoring service.
- Watch for warning signs: Unusual financial activity can be a tipoff that a caregiver or other person who has gained access to their money is exploiting an older loved one. Here are some red flags to look out for, according to the American Bankers Association.
- Large, frequent, or unexplained bank withdrawals or fund transfers
- Changing from a basic bank account to one with more complicated services
- A new person conducting financial transactions on a loved one’s behalf without proper documentation (such as a financial power of attorney)
- Sudden overdrafts or unpaid bills
- Changes to wills, trusts, or powers of attorney
If you suspect caregiver fraud or theft, contact the police and your local Adult Protective Services (APS) agency. In Tennessee, APS can be reached at 888-277-8366. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Initiative (EJI) offers an elder fraud hotline (833-372-8311).
If relevant, contact the older person’s attorney of any suspected financial abuse, especially if a caregiver is exerting pressure to revise estate planning documents.
Source: AARP.org. This content brought to you in partnership with AgeWell Middle Tennessee. AgeWell Middle Tennessee champions informed and positive aging and serves as the area’s catalyst for collaborative solutions. Visit their website to learn more about the work they are doing and how you can get involved.