Looking Out For The Elderly

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Looking Out For The Elderly

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What I do involves much more than paying bills and balancing checkbooks for my clients.

I look out for their welfare. Unfortunately, the world is full of shady characters trying to make a quick buck off seniors, legally or illegally. That is why I had to have an “intervention” with a potential client I spoke to last week.

She called me and indicated she was interested in my services. I started to ask her some basic questions and before I knew it, she was giving out all her personal information to me.

At the end of the conversation I leveled with her:

“You really, really, really shouldn’t be giving this information to just anybody,” I remember saying, “If you were giving it to someone who is less honest than I am, you could get in trouble.”

“Well, you’re right. You just sound like a very honest person,” she replied.

I have another client who is very trusting, and who keeps her doors open — not unlocked, but open — throughout the summer. Even when the doors are closed, her windows are open. With minimal effort, anybody could easily barge in on her and knock her over with a feather.

A third client of mine is actually two people; a husband and wife who were born before women had the right to vote. I’ve written before about what is called “befriending” in the Elder Care community. Befriending involves unscrupulous people making the acquaintance, and gaining the confidence, of a senior who has something they want — usually money. They may ask for money directly or provide a real or imagined service for seniors with an unrealistically high price tag. Either way it gets done with a smile.

This particular couple has a weekly gardener and a daily housekeeper, in addition to a health aide. All of these service providers are paid out in cash, so I don’t know what amount is for which service provider…and I just wonder. Wonder and worry.

Even some legitimate businesses are insensitive to the progress I and others are trying to make with seniors. Last week a client told me that a nurse had called her and was going to come over and do an exam.

“Well, how do you know that’s really who it is?” I asked.

The truth is that there was no way to tell. It turned out to be a legitimate visit from her insurance company, but it made me wonder if all of my efforts educating seniors about safety was being undermined by the very company that was supposed to keep them healthy.

Once our loved ones lose their ability to drive and end up alone during the day, they yearn to have someone to talk to. If it weren’t for this fact, I am certain 90% of elder abuse could be prevented. I suppose the lesson for those of us who are lucky enough to have seniors in our lives is to talk to them. Talk to them and educate them not only about the potential threats out there, but also ask about how their day was and tell them what’s going on in your life. Sometimes they are just looking for a friend.

 

Judith Heft


Judith Heft, Principal, Judith Heft & Associates is a personal financial concierge with offices in Greenwich and Stamford. She can be contacted via email at judy@judithheft.com or by phone 203-978-1858.

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