I recently wrote that 1-9 people over age 65 live with Alzheimer’s or Dementia; at age 80, almost 50% of people over 80 have some form of Dementia. Scammers know this. Scammers also know that the first sign of dementia is not thinking clearly. Most people believe that memory loss is the first sign. NOPE… it is the loss of the executive function.
In laypeople’s terms, the executive function is the part of the brain that controls your ability to make decisions. It starts developing around age 13 and is typically fully developed around age 25. It is the last part of your brain to develop and the first part to go. A brain with Alzheimer’s or dementia is shrinking. Thus, for those who have this condition, their ability to make decisions is also dwindling.
Scammers target the elderly because they know that their chances of reaching someone whose ability to think is more like a 13-year-old than a 70-year-old is good. They are good at tricking people and spotting those who have mild symptoms of dementia. Scammers use fear (“you are going to be arrested,” “your loved one is in jail or was just in an accident,” “your computer, water pipes, etc. are about to break”) and “get rich quick” schemes to trick people into giving large amounts of cash, typically by Western Union or a payment app (Zelle etc.). As soon as a warning about a scam goes out, they start a new one.
Scammers are one reason I am recommending that my clients over 60 consider adding a Co-Trustee to their Trust and making sure that all their accounts are in their Trust. Having a co-manager of your money who snoops on you (with your permission) can protect you from scams.
If you are worried about falling for scams or perhaps have already been taken advantage of, give me a call and let’s update your Trust to add a co-trustee.