The Holidays and Aging Parents
If you live a distance from your aging parents, and you don’t see them but a few times a year, the holidays can be especially stressful. Never mind that the family may already have stressful holidays just being together. Discovering that your aging parents are showing signs of “slipping” can be a very upsetting matter. If you’ve always gone to Mom’s house, and she puts together a holiday meal, or party, you may not recognize at first that anything has changed.
Sometimes hidden behind the usual problems of family togetherness is the lurking difficulty of aging and how it affects our parents. Mom may have forgotten a traditional part of the meal she always serves. Perhaps she did not clean the house. Dad may have forgotten to shave. One or the other parent may have lost weight, seem confused, or have other signs of not being quite as you are used to seeing them. You may not notice the subtle changes of aging creeping up until you are with them for a few days.
A sinking feeling can accompany the moment when you notice these little warning signs. Mom is getting old! Dad is losing it! What does this mean for their boomer adult children? It can mean many things, like the necessity of planning ahead, of having the “difficult conversation” about what to do if a parent loses mental capacity, about money, about your parent’s wishes. It can also mean that you need to watch out for them, and to protect them against elder financial abuse.
Elderly aging parent financial abuse is a serious and growing problem in the U.S.and across the world. It is estimated to cost our elders over 40 billion dollars a year, through trickery, scams and theft. Educated and intelligent people can be taken in by scammers, just as naïve and less educated people can. What does this mean for adult children? It means that you need to be educated about how predators victimize our aging parents. Our elders are the “handshake generation”, trusting, not wanting to rock the boat. Boomers are likely to be quite different from our aging parents and elders. We tend to take action. We get involved. Now, we need to take action for our aging parents.
Know the common ways criminals prey on aging parents and elders. Keep abreast of the latest scams that con artists use to steal identities and wipe out bank accounts. Use protective measures yourself, and help your aging loved ones learn to do the same. Marin’s volunteer Financial Abuse Specialist Team works with law enforcement to address elder abuse here in our county. For helpful information to keep you informed, visit the nonprofit Elder Financial Protection Network’s website at www.bewiseonline.org.
Carolyn L. Rosenblatt, R. N., Attorney at Law, Financial Abuse Specialist Team member, Marin County, CA..