As our loved ones age, they may be at increased risk for falling victim to scams and fraudsters, especially if they suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s. These cognitive conditions can leave seniors more vulnerable to being deceived or manipulated by predators. That’s why it’s important to take extra precautions when caring for a senior loved one with memory care needs.
One of the most common types of scams that target seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s is phone scams. Scammers may pose as representatives from a variety of organizations, including the IRS, Social Security, or even a grandchild in trouble. They may use scare tactics, such as threatening to cut off social security benefits, or they may promise prizes or other rewards in exchange for personal information.
To protect your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s from phone scams, it’s essential to educate them about common scams and frauds, and explain how to spot and avoid them. Try to stay involved in their life and be aware of any changes in their behavior or financial situation. Consider setting up caller ID on their phone to screen incoming calls, and advise them to hang up immediately if they suspect the caller is a fraudster.
Email scams, also known as “phishing scams,” are another common way that scammers target seniors with memory care needs. These scams typically involve sending an email that appears to be from a legitimate organization, such as a bank or a government agency, and asking the recipient to click on a link or provide personal information. The link may lead to a website that looks like the legitimate organization’s website, but is actually a fake site designed to steal personal information.
To protect your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s from email scams, consider setting up their email account with two-factor authentication, which can provide an extra layer of security. Encourage them to be skeptical of unsolicited emails and to never click on links or download attachments from unknown sources.
Door-to-door scams can also pose a significant risk to seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s. These scams involve scammers who knock on a senior’s door and try to sell them something or solicit a donation. They may sell fake products, such as home improvement services or magazine subscriptions, or they may be posing as representatives from a charity or other organization.
To protect your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s from door-to-door scams, advise them to never let strangers into their home and to be skeptical of unsolicited offers. Encourage them to ask for identification and to verify the legitimacy of the organization before making any purchases or donations.
Finally, it’s essential to consider memory care when protecting your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s from scams and frauds. Memory care facilities provide specialized care and support for seniors with cognitive conditions, and can be a helpful resource for families struggling to keep their loved ones safe. These facilities often have dedicated staff trained to spot and prevent scams and other fraudulent activities, which can help give families peace of mind.
Real-Life Stories of People Who Were Scammed
- Evelyn was a 73-year-old widow who received a call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller told her she owed back taxes and threatened to have her arrested if she did not pay immediately. Evelyn panicked and provided her credit card information, resulting in a loss of $4,000.
- Frank was a 78-year-old retiree who received an email from someone claiming to be his bank. The email requested that Frank update his account information by clicking on a link. Frank clicked on the link and provided his personal information, resulting in a loss of $10,000.
- Mary was an 85-year-old who received a letter in the mail claiming she had won a lottery. The letter instructed her to wire money to cover processing fees before she could claim her prize. Mary wired the money, but never received her prize, resulting in a loss of $2,500.
Tips for Protecting Your Loved Ones from Scams
- Stay involved: Make an effort to stay involved in the life of the senior or person with dementia, and be aware of any changes in their behavior or financial situation.
- Educate them: Teach seniors or people with dementia about common scams and frauds, and explain how to spot and avoid them.
- Monitor finances: If you have access to the person’s finances, monitor their accounts for any unusual activity. Look for unexplained withdrawals, charges, or transfers.
- Set up caller ID: Consider setting up caller ID on their phone to screen incoming calls. This can help block robocalls and other fraudulent calls.
- Set up Power of Attorney: If possible, set up a Power of Attorney for the senior or person with dementia. This can help ensure that their financial and legal affairs are managed by a trusted individual.
- Use technology: Consider using technology to help protect the senior or person with dementia. For example, you could install a security system or set up cameras to monitor their home.
- Report fraud: If you suspect that the senior or person with dementia has been the victim of fraud or a scam, report it to the authorities immediately. This can help prevent others from falling victim to the same scam.
Protecting seniors or people with dementia from predators and scam artists can be challenging, but it is essential to take steps to reduce the risk of them becoming a victim. By staying involved, educating them about common scams, monitoring finances, and using technology, you can help keep your loved ones safe from fraudsters. Remember to be vigilant and encourage your loved ones to always be skeptical of unsolicited calls, emails, or offers. With a little effort, you can help ensure that your loved ones are protected from these types of scams.