Besides the family and friends calling to check on her I began to notice the number of people calling to try to get her to donate money for this or that. While some of them were reputable charities some I had never heard of. I actually had quite a heated debate with one after they called three days in a row. I told him that I would appreciate if they would take my mother’s name off of their list of people to call. He refused and when I explained that mom did not have the financial means and was no longer able to make those kinds of decisions he became very rude and told me I needed to butt out.
This has bothered me every since. I began reminding mom every day that if people called to get her to donate her money she should refuse and politely hang up. I had put her on the ‘Do Not Call’ list but soon found out that charities are exempt from this rule. There are people who set out to find our loved ones because they are easy ‘targets’. They work on their sympathies whether it be a child in need or sick animals, whatever works. I read an article in the AARP magazine mom gets and was shocked to find some of the ways scammers go about trying to steal money from our senior citizens.
Okay, so back to yesterday. Mom had received a letter in the mail telling her that they were trying out a new hearing aid. With this offer, they would do a complete hearing test for no charge. They would do a thorough screening of the inside of the ear to make sure there wasn’t any damage and that the patient could try the hearing aid for thirty days at no charge.
Mom has gotten very hard of hearing and the new insurance she had gotten at the beginning of the year will cover most of the expense of hearing aids although she has to go to a certain company for them to be covered. We thought we would go to this and see if it is something that would work for her.
We arrived at our designated time and had to fill out a small questionnaire. When this was completed we were lead to a small office with one of those hearing tests that the patient puts on the headphones and raises their appropriate hand when they hear the beep. I could honestly hear the beeps through her headphones and she couldn’t hear most of them. They then moved on to a ‘thorough screening of the inside of the ear’ which consisted of them looking into her ear with a magnified scope like you would see in your primary care doctors’office.
The last part of the test they would say a word and she was supposed to say it back. This part startled me because she could only repeat two of the ten words. The ‘nurse’ salesperson then came in to get the results from the ‘screen-er’ receptionist and began to tell me how dire the situation with mom’s hearing was (yes, she does have issues with hearing, I had already known this and their tests confirmed it).
The nurse then went on to tell me that the reason she was so forgetful was because her hearing was so bad, so according to her(the nurse), the Alzheimer disease was caused by bad hearing. They couldn’t believe that I hadn’t already done something about it. Then they began telling me that if we bought their hearing aides immediately it would fix all of her memory problems, her hearing problems, and basically cure everything under the sun.
The hearing aid had to be purchased right then, for a mere $5400. I know hearing aides are expensive and I don’t disagree that it is something she may need. The whole point of this appointment was for her to try them out to see if 1.) They will actually help and 2.) Would she even wear them or would they become a nuisance and something she would throw in a draw and forget?
She has told me repeatedly that she hears fine, but she doesn’t process what she is hearing. I said, ‘ I thought she would get to try them out to see if they would even work for her or if they were something she would even wear’. They immediately stuck one of the devices in her hear and asked if that bothered her.
That’s when the hard sell began. “If you don’t buy these hearing aides right now you are missing out on a great deal and you are robbing her of the ability to finally hear well. If you buy today it is $5400 and you can even finance this amount for $125 a month, then you get to try these miracles for thirty days and if you don’t like it we will refund you the money. BUT if you wait until tomorrow the price is going up to $7400 at $180 a month.
If you have ever been to one of those time share tours then you know exactly the kind of selling tactics I am talking about. I don’t like this kind of sales pressure. We did not buy and as we were leaving we walked through the waiting room and it was filled with senior citizens waiting for their appointments. I wondered how many would be pushed into buying without the opportunity to look around at other options or to find out a little more about the company etc.
I guess the point I am trying to make is this. It is hard enough to try and fulfill all the duties of a caregiver. To fit everything into a 24 hour day. I learned today that not only do we have to be vigilant guarding their safety and security, their happiness and their health we have to make sure they take their medication, eat well, exercise, bathe and are generally happy, but I know now we have to protect their finances from people who prey on the old and weak and to those people I say ‘Shame on You‘!
- Make sure you’re diligent when you check out references and backgrounds for any caregivers. Try to get referrals from people you know well instead of advertising for a caregiver. Go through a reputable company. Check references and pay attention to names and address. Just because someone gives you a phone number and a name. I’ve seen people put their relatives down for old employment references. It’s easier now you can Google anyone so when it comes to a caregiver for your elderly loved one. Google everything. You can do background checks, see past addresses, you can even Google addresses in maps and it will show you the actual photo of the address.
- Talk to them about common scams. This would be hard for someone suffering from dementia, but for everyone else knowledge is power. Never open the door for strangers. Explain that sometimes these people even come door to door. They tell them that they noticed that their “insert anything you want” is broken and they can fix it real quick. If they want to give to a charity let them choose and mail them a check or go to their website. Never give information over the phone. I’ve seen were they call and act like their grandkids requesting money, Teach them to be internet savvy.
- Watch their financial activity for fraudulent activity. On a side note when my husband’s credit card was cloned the thieves only took out $1 in two different cities (New York & Texas). My banker said that’s what they do if they are selling the cards. They will buy something small to prove that the cloned cards work. So pay attention to small charges as well as the larger ones. Look for out of state purchases.
- This is my favorite. Sign them up for identity theft protection. As a caregiver, you learn quickly to delegate. Let them take just one of your many tasks off your hands so you can move on to the next.
*This post was originally written in Mar of 2014. It’s been updated and reworked with added tips for your viewing pleasure!