Becoming a senior citizen should be seen as a new beginning. It's the time for making the most of your golden years and enjoying the fruits of your labors and good health in old age.

When it comes to caring for a senior citizen, honesty in business is more vital than it has ever been before. If you are seeking old age help for your parents, be very careful.

Even though the definition of old age has changed over the years, one of the fears of growing older is that you might lose the ability to take care of yourself, becoming unduly dependent on others.  Although many old age diseases are not as severe as they were in the past, most people will become infirm in the end. And unfortunately, senior citizens, for any of a number of reasons, frequently fall for schemes and swindles.

 Sadly, the phenomenon of “elder abuse” is becoming more widespread. In places like Florida, it is a cottage industry. Newspapers report on stories of “caregivers” getting powers-of-attorney from their clients through fraudulent means, unscrupulous relatives stealing from Grandma’s accounts, and seemingly loving “sweethearts” marrying older people to either steal their assets while they are still alive or become beneficiaries of their estate.

Many victims of financial exploitation are widows or individuals at the beginning stages of disorders such as senility, dementia, or Alzheimer’s, and other old age problems, which cause them to lose control of their own affairs.

 Proper preparation and organization can help minimize the chances of you or a loved one becoming a victim of financial exploitation.   Take the following steps to protect yourself:

-          Review your financial documents, including your wills, powers-of-attorney, and insurance policies, every year to make sure they still represent your wishes.

-          Loneliness and depression increase vulnerability.  To minimize the attentions of dishonest individuals, surround yourself with family, friends, and enjoyable activities.

-          Be vigilant on checking bank and other financial records.  If you don’t receive them by mail on a regular basis, learn how to check on line.  Many cases of financial exploitation are only discovered much later, due to lack of awareness.

-          If your health is starting to fail, act before it gets too late. Make sure that you have a will and there is someone you know that you can trust who can be given the responsibility of making medical decisions for you, should you no longer be able to do so.

-          Let your lawyer or other trusted person know where your important documents are.

-          If you have elderly parents, keep a close eye on their caregivers and any new “friends” or “sweethearts” that seem to be extra helpful to the exclusion of anyone else.

Good health in old ageCredit: Image: photostock /

-          For more advice on planning your finances and old age benefits, please read:

 Knowledge is power, and knowing your finances are well-organized and monitored is an important defense against being exploited.

Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for investment advice that takes into account each individual’s special position and needs. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.