Many Iowans are tasked with helping their parents and/or grandparents manage their finances and medical care. Some are named official guardians or conservators, although many are simply informal caregivers providing regular assistance, such as providing financial assistance, picking up groceries and helping perform chores.
Whatever the extent of care you provide, you can become an Iowa Fraud Fighter and help protect your loved one from fraud.
Tips for Assisting Aging Parents
The older generations of Americans are less likely to discuss their finances without a strong incentive, especially if they are concerned about appearing incapable. Additionally, stepping in to provide assistance after a long financial history has already been established can feel like navigating a maze of unexpected and uncertain accounts, charges and bills. Here are our tips:
- Provide reassurance. Asking for assistance when it is needed is a responsible step in managing their finances.
- Talk to your parents and grandparents about the future. Discussing their finances and future plans before they need assistance gives you a better idea of how to help them manage their affairs when the time comes.
- Obtain all legal documents from an attorney. There are many free, online resources for legal documents, but an attorney will ensure you get the proper documents and authorization specific to your parent or grandparent’s needs. An attorney will also help you understand these documents.
- Review monthly statements together. Keep track of regular payments and check into increased or unfamiliar charges.
- Know the people caring for or advising your parents or grandparents. It’s important to know the people who influence their financial decisions, not only to understand the philosophy behind the advice, but also to recognize when new influencers come into the picture.
Signs of Victimization in Aging Adults
Con artists scam older Americans out of $3 billion each year. Recognizing the signs of victimization will help you step in and protect your loved one from being defrauded.
- Sudden large withdrawals or unusual activity in bank accounts
- Sudden unjustified selling of property
- Abrupt changes in will or other financial documents
- Unpaid bills when resources should be adequate
- Confusion, lack of knowledge or inaccurate knowledge of finances
Helpful Financial Resources
Whichever type of caregiver you are, remember that you are not alone. There are federal, state and local agencies and organizations standing ready to help you protect your loved ones from fraud. From legal documentation to respite care to expert advice, you’ll find all the resources you need to be an Iowa Fraud Fighter and a caregiver.
Guardians are appointed to manage medical treatments, living arrangements, meals, personal care and nonfinancial matters, while conservators are appointed to manage financial affairs. These appointments are made through advance directives, although advance directives can provide additional guidance for caregivers who are not court-appointed as well.
It is important for caregivers to know about advance directive documents and understand the benefits and limitations they provide. Common advance directives include:
|Advance Directive||Enables your parent or grandparent to make decisions about future medical care and provides guidance for family and doctors when your loved one cannot speak for himself/herself.|
|Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare||An advance directive that names an agent to act for your loved one in case he/she cannot make healthcare decisions due to unconsciousness or loss of ability to think and reason.|
|General Power of Attorney||Authorizes someone to act on behalf of your loved one in all of his/her financial transactions and affairs.|
|Limited Power of Attorney||Authorizes someone to act on behalf of your loved on in matters specifically designated in the document.|
|Living Will||Provides direction to physicians about withholding or withdrawing certain life-sustaining procedures that could prolong the dying process if your loved one is expected to die soon or remain permanently unconscious.|
If you are a court-appointed guardian or conservator or a mandatory reporter, you may have the authority to report fraud on behalf of your loved one. If you are not court-appointed, you may need to encourage your loved one to report the fraud.
To report fraud, there are four major agencies you can turn to:
- Elder abuse or financial exploitation – Iowa Department on Aging
- Medicare fraud – SHIIP or Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP)
- Investment or insurance fraud – Iowa Insurance Division
- Consumer fraud – Iowa Attorney General’s office
Looking for more information about fraud and how to protect your loved ones? Click here to get our full list of additional fraud-fighting resources.