Recently, a friend told me she had heard about the terrible experience of an elderly grandmother who had paid out £3,500 to some disreputable builders for some very sub-standard work. No written quotation had been provided to compare and she had paid them in full feeling that she had no alternative and leaving her with no recourse for the shoddy workmanship carried out.
This sorry tale represents a form of elder financial abuse and, sadly, the issue is a far from uncommon one. Family members often have difficulty picking up such activity as the elderly relative is too embarrassed to say anything and therefore says nothing. It erodes their self-confidence and leaves them feeling vulnerable and anxious. Numeracy difficulties are a common issue associated with dementia and prices can get easily confused when there is no written record.
Danger of this kind is where the Making Life Simple service can help. It is a trustworthy service which would pick up any unusual spending patterns and therefore reduce the likelihood of this continuing undetected for a prolonged period. Designed to help people whose financial affairs may have become disorganised and overwhelming for them, the service is aimed at those people of advancing years who may be struggling to keep on top of their finances, and who would benefit from someone going through everything carefully, getting it all organised and then keeping it that way. It is not financial advice, but financial organisation.
Making Life Simple starts with an initial appraisal which involves collecting all historical paperwork from the client, which is then grouped and organised. Historical documents no longer required are scanned and shredded. A full analysis of their accounts and investments is carried out and a snapshot spreadsheet is produced, together with a bespoke folder containing all the client’s important and most up-to-date documents which can thereafter be retained in an orderly format and readily accessed. A priority list of action points is drawn up and, if appropriate, an action plan to consolidate and simplify finances can be identified. The folder and action plan are returned and reviewed with the client.
An ongoing service to monitor and review the client’s finances on a quarterly basis is also available. This enables us to monitor their position, spot irregularities and highlight anomalies or potential abuse. With the client’s permission, we can address any concerns on their behalf. This is invaluable to people who are otherwise vulnerable as they age and if they have no family support living nearby.
The service appeals particularly to those who may have been widowed, where their spouse had previously dealt with money matters, but are no longer there to do so. In such circumstances, it is often very difficult for people to gain the confidence to deal with their own financial arrangements without the level of assistance provided and a great deal of avoidable anxiety can result. This can also be true of people who have simply become isolated over time, or geographically distant from their nearest relatives, without anyone else to help them with their financial organisation. Some people may just appreciate someone checking things for them on a regular basis and raising the alarm to this kind of activity. Making Life Simple is not about checking statements every week, but on a regular quarterly basis, noticing details which may highlight any financial abuse already happening and reduce the risk of it happening again in the future.