According to the National Council on Aging the number one scam perpetrated against seniors (and taxpayers) involves fraudulent Medicare claims. Medicare scams can take many different forms, but the most common scam is to simply obtain someone else’s Medicaid number and then submit false claims for services or products that were never provided.
Confusion over the Affordable Care Act has given scam artists new cover for trying to obtain Medicare numbers from trusting seniors. According to the Better Business Bureau, callers will claim they want to help seniors obtain an Affordable Care card and will ask for the senior’s Social Security number or Medicare number to get the process started.
Protecting Seniors From Phone Scams
Standard advice for anyone who receives a call from a stranger asking for personal information—including Social Security, Medicare or bank account numbers—is to simply hang up.
Hanging up is a relatively easy way to protect yourself from a scam artist who is a stranger, but how can you protect yourself from a scam artist inside your home? This is a particular issue for seniors who want to hire an in-home caregiver. An in-home caregiver can provide tremendous comfort and peace of mind, but unwittingly hiring an unscrupulous caregiver can have devastating consequences.
Scam artists are successful because they are believable and have learned how to quickly gain someone’s trust. It’s best not to let anyone into your home without conducting a thorough background check and contacting several references.
How to Hire an In-Home Caregiver
Getting help caring for your aging parent is tough when you want the best for your parents. The most reliable method of finding a qualified home health aide is working through an agency. All professional home health care agencies must be licensed and insured. Caregivers employed through these services must go through a background check and have a minimum level of training or education.
If caregivers are found guilty of negligent or unethical behavior, the agency can be fined or its license revoked, which is additional incentive for monitoring caregiver-client interactions. The hourly cost for licensed in-home health care in Washington is between $20 and $25 per hour.
How to Know if Your In Home Health Aide is Scamming You
Once you’ve hired an in-home caregiver, remain skeptical and vigilant. If your loved one mentions that jewelry or other items have gone missing, take their concerns seriously. Yes, it might be a simple case of forgetfulness, but it might also be theft. If the caregiver has access to money, either to assist with grocery shopping or to help with paying bills, make sure there are safeguards in place to ensure that the money is being spent where it is intended.
The bottom line is that most in-home caregivers are doing honest work with compassion and love, but seniors who need care are still a vulnerable target. If your loved one is using the assistance of an in-home health aide, make sure you stay involved, visit often and put safeguards in place to guard against theft.
At Village Green Retirement Campus, our professional caregivers are dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of all our residents. We have extensive protocols to ensure that the people who join our caregiving staff truly are the kind of people we would want in our own family, in our own homes.