• Why Older Americans are More Financially Vulnerable

  • by Austin Schachinger

Being financially stable while staying on top of bills and payments brings a constant fear and uneasiness to Americans every day. When you are middle-aged, all you want when you walk into work every day is to make enough to support your family and stay afloat financially. But, despite the years of experience paying bills and being financially intelligent, staying ahead of your bills and mortgage payments as you get older can become an obstacle that seems impossible to overcome.

Aging Mind

Are you finding yourself forgetful, confused, and unfocused when it comes to handling finances more often than when you were younger? Don’t worry because that is completely normal for people reaching their 60’s and 70’s. Recent research results from Dan Marson, a professor of neurology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, suggest that adults in their 60’s and 70’s are finding more difficulty in performing their everyday financial tasks such as prioritizing bills, investing, or even counting change at the checkout of a grocery store. This study also includes the fact that seniors of this age are more vulnerable to such potential telephone fraud as the grandparent scam, for example.

Naomi Karp, who speaks at the Gerontological Society of America’s annual meetings in the District of Columbia points out that these kinds of mental difficulties result in the most common form of abuse among older homeowners, financial abuse. Another crucial point she mentions is that seniors with a significant amount of assets, including home equity, are usually the targets for this extreme, underreported crime.

Aging Body

Unfortunately, cognitive decline is not the only downside of becoming older. You may also notice your physical abilities start to decline as well. These kinds of declines certainly don’t happen to everybody and, if they do, some may not be as severe as others. But your physical health can be correlated to what you are capable of getting done financially. If you are someone who has difficulty moving, making the round trip to the bank can be exhausting and take way longer than it needs to. Additionally, if you have arthritis, the simple task of signing a check or any other financial forms can be painful, and going through mail and paperwork can become overwhelming and tiring.

Preparation Is Key

While cognitive and physical declines may not happen to everyone, it’s always best to be prepared. Some common early warning signs to be on the lookout for are:

  • A stack of mail that seems to have been untouched for a long time and is starting to pile up.
  • Your older family member is beginning to have trouble with basic math like calculating a tip at a restaurant.
  • They are looking past investment risks, blinded by all the benefits.

It’s always best to catch problems like these early. Here are some simple steps that can help you get financial help before you dig yourself too deep of a hole.

  • Ask family/friends to help organize and run finances
  • Hire professional financial advisors
  • Get all paperwork in order right now
  • Develop a plan for your financial future right now
  • Report any abuse, fraud, or scams as soon as possible

You may ask, “But what if these warning signs have been around for a long time and I tried all of the steps above and this financial hole still seems impossible to get out of?” No worries. We’re here to help. A reverse mortgage helps people pay off debts, plan for a financially-stable retirement, or have funds ready on an as-needed basis.