This morning at our monthly North of 60 meeting a local police constable talked to us about several topics of particular relevance to seniors: elder abuse and scams.
It was grim and cautionary stuff and a reminder that getting older is not for the faint of heart. Why are seniors targeted? Some reasons: we’re too trusting; easy marks; often relatively wealthy (savings for the final stage etc.); too polite; often lonely and isolated; can be easily intimidated. The officer told us that we don’t need to answer the door, for example, and that the revenue agency or police will never phone and threaten or ask for money. Those emails that say we’ve won something or have some distant relative who left us in their will? Scams. “If something is too good to be true, it probably is.” Simply hang up on those calls, or don’t answer a number you don’t recognize. The so-called grandchild stranded at roadside and needing money? Say you’ll call back in five minutes and hang up. “Slow down — take the emotion out of it — analyze — check.”
Scammer are very clever and keep changing tactics. “Don’t be trusting!” the officer declared.
Right now this all seems obvious and easy enough. Some day it may not be. So of course I will need to do some trusting. I’m thinking it’s important to figure out who to trust ahead of time, to foster a community of integrity around oneself. Wills and power of attorney documents need to be in place. In our case, we trust our children, but we need to keep letting them into our lives — all of them in various ways, as checks and balance — so they know what’s going on with us. We must also stay informed about safety issues and local help-resources.