As social restrictions continue in support of public health, risks associated with isolation permeate among the aging population, according to a Wells Fargo survey conducted by The Harris Poll from November 17-19.
A quarter (25 percent) of all seniors age 60 and above report feeling isolated and lonely, and over a third (43 percent) can go days without talking to others and spend most of their time alone, according to the survey results.
“With smaller family sizes and higher divorce rates relative to earlier generations, baby boomers face a much higher risk of isolation,” says Dr. Marti DeLiema, a gerontologist and consultant for Wells Fargo’s Aging Client Services. Isolation has been shown to have numerous negative health consequences, ranging from depression to cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.
Compounding the risks associated with isolation is the alarming number of seniors who feel their chances of falling victim to a financial scam is unlikely. Sixty-nine percent of all seniors age 60 and above believe they are not likely to be susceptible to a financial scam, despite nearly all seniors (97 percent) acknowledging that older people are very or somewhat susceptible to becoming a victim of a scam.
Consider some of the following to better protect yourself and loved ones from elder financial fraud and abuse:
- Talk with trustworthy family members about your financial plans and call when something doesn’t feel right — even if you are being told not to;
- Update and have legal documents in place, such as wills, an advance healthcare directive, and powers of attorney for financial matters and for health care;
- Consider signing up for direct deposit, automatic bill pay, and large transaction alerts.
- Keep checks and credit cards locked away;
- Stay aware of potential red flags, including:
- Alleged emergency situations involving family members, often grandchildren, requiring immediate payment;
- Lottery winnings requiring upfront cash payment for taxes and other fees; and
- Phone calls from alleged government agencies, such as Social Security, threatening arrest or penalties