Prevention of falls and financial losses

safety_watch_sheri_tate_newBy Sergeant Sheri Tate/Active Senior’s Digest

Why would a police officer recommend attending a Falls Prevention Exercise program? You may feel the role of police and my recommendation for seniors to exercise has nothing in common…. but in fact they do. Let me explain in detail.

When we lose our ability to do the activities of daily living we must then rely on others to do our chores for us. When we can no longer walk, or take a bus or drive, then who do we ask to do our banking or buy us necessities? Seniors who do not have care givers with integrity are at severe risk for financial abuse when they can no longer get out of their house regularly.

I’ve investigated situations where seniors have given their bank card and PIN to a “friend” a family member, a personal support worker, or their power of attorney for property so the person can buy groceries. Then these so-called helpers help themselves to the rest of the money in the account. To cover their tracks, they offer to collect the senior’s mail and the bank statement never seems to arrive. Months later when the financial loss is finally detected and thousands of dollars are gone, a call to police is made. It is difficult to recoup this money even when criminal charges are laid. These types of cases can also be difficult to prove. Even when there is a successful prosecution and court orders restitution, many times the culprits don’t have the financial means to pay the money back. The old phrase my mom used to always say, “You can’t get blood from a stone,” is so true in many of these cases. Don’t think for a minute the bank will refund you any of the money because they won’t. Giving your PIN in any situation breaches the contract with the bank and you are liable not the bank.

You can avoid this situation in the following ways:

1) Buy gift cards for groceries so if there are times you are not up to going out but you need food, you can give your helper the gift card to make the purchase instead of giving the helper your bank card and PIN.  (plus ask for receipts;

2) There are reputable companies and grocery stores that will shop for you and deliver food right to your door for a small cost compared to the thousands you may lose giving your bank card and PIN to someone;

3) Consider Meals on Wheels..they have many options that fit most budgets, including frozen meals that can be used for those times you are not able to get out of the house;

4) Have your bills automatically taken out of your account to avoid having to give cash or cheques to the helper to pay it for you.  The person can walk away with cash while cheques can be altered, so instead of the company getting the money, the helper collects and

5) to summarize the theme of my article…stay mobile and consider an exercise class, physical therapy, private trainer or a falls prevention class.

I know of cases where people have been in wheelchairs and after attending falls prevention class can walk again…Keeping your independence can keep you safe financially.  Financial abuse is the number one form of elder abuse and there are many ways to avoid being a victim.  Feel free to call my office should you have any questions.

Sergeant Sheri Tate, Senior Support Coordinator: 905-579-1520 ext. 5624.  Helping to keep you safe and abuse free.