The Senior Safe Act is Now Law – Helping to Protect Elders from Financial Abuse

As part of a larger financial overhaul bill, on May 24, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Senior Safe Act.  While much of the reporting on the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act was about the Dodd-Frank revisions, the law incorporated most of the original provisions of the Senior Safe Act, a law geared toward protecting the elderly against financial abuse.

The Senior Safe Act

The Senior Safe Act allows financial institutions and its employees to report elderly financial abuse without  fear of privacy law violations.  Individuals and companies that properly train employees to recognize signs of elder financial abuse are immune from liability for reporting suspected abuse, as long as the reporting was done in good faith and done with reasonable care.  The financial institutions include credit unions, banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies.

Protecting the Elderly from Financial Abuse

Banks and other financial institutions are on the front lines when witnessing possible financial abuse. Until last week, individuals who witnessed elder exploitation risked being in violation of federal and state privacy laws if the suspected abuse was reported. Watching the abuse and not being able to say anything to authorities put these individuals and their employer in a tough spot. With this new law, the elderly can be better protected by financial services industry employees.

The elderly lose between $3 billion and $36 billion per year to financial fraud, according to Consumer Reports in 2015. The amount depends on the survey conducted. While the range varies between the different surveys, there is no dispute that the elderly are vulnerable to friends, family and strangers when it comes to their money. In another study, Allianz reported in 2016 that the average financial loss to elderly victims was $36,000.00, and the numbers will grow with the aging baby boomer population.

Something must be done about this unspeakable crime plaguing our elderly. The Senior Safe Act is a step in the right direction. Giving individuals and their employers who are closest to an elder person’s money the ability to speak out when wrongdoing is suspected is a relief, but more needs to be done to protect our elderly.

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A Gig Economy is Perfect for Retired Baby Boomers

Retired Baby Boomers now have the best of both worlds with a gig economy. They have freed themselves from the confines of an organizational life after putting in 25-30 years with a company or companies. Pension, IRA and savings in hand, they can now move to a different chapter in their life of travel, grandchildren, gardening or just plain doing nothing. However, if boredom sets in, if financial constraints require them to seek another job, or if they just want some play dough – cheer up, we live in a gig economy.

Boomers Can Get Paid for Each Gig

A gig economy is where organizations contract with independent contractors for short term “gigs” or temporary positions. A study by Intuit shows that 40 percent of American workers will be independent workers by 2020. For some, independent contracting can be more of a choice, going from project to project. They have the freedom to take on several different ventures and they are their own boss. They give up health care and other benefits a larger company would provide them, but they work on their own terms. This is a different environment than Baby Boomers experienced, where staying at the same company for an entire career was more of a feather in one’s cap because of the generous retirement benefits that came at the end of that career.

In 2016, the McKinsey Global Institute published a report showing that independent workers fell into four categories: free agents, who actively choose independent work and it is their primary income; casual earners, who use independent work for supplemental income and do so by choice; reluctants, who make their primary living from independent work but would prefer traditional jobs; and the financially strapped, who do supplemental independent work out of necessity.

Upsides of Going from Gig to Gig

For retired Baby Boomers, being a casual earner and cashing in on the gig economy only has upsides. Typically, benefits and all the trappings of the corporate life are behind them. They are living on their own terms now as age and retirement have set in. If they feel like taking on part-time work for a few months, the gig economy provides them numerous opportunities for short-term or project style work. If they want a steady part-time job at one business, the owners are usually happy to have them on contract, since the employer does not have to pay health care or taxes. If Baby Boomers want to work for one day – yes, one day – the Washington Post just published an article where retailers are now beginning to hire for one day jobs. Imagine. If you are a Baby Boomer that splits time between the north and south depending on the season, you can literally make some extra cash going from retailer to retailer picking up open shifts. Or, if you are retired and bored and want something to do, you can pick up some project work in one of your skilled areas, which in today’s high-tech world, can probably be completed on your computer from either your winter or summer house. There really is no losing in a gig economy for Baby Boomers who want to make money after retirement.

Gig Economy for Baby Boomers

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Family Caregivers – When Is It Time For Assisted Living?

We live in an age where we, as baby boomers are put in the role of caring for our elderly parents. Technology and medical advances have, in many instances, extended the lives of human beings. However, the extension of life does not necessarily equate to the extension of health. As our parents age, they are increasingly vulnerable, unable to make decisions easily, require assistance in caring for themselves and have difficulty keeping up their home. Parents used to be our caregivers, but now the roles are reversing and many of us are now caring for our elderly parents. At the outset of their declining health, we want to keep them at their homes where they are comfortable. And, typically, they want to stay in their familiar surroundings. So, we make arrangements to give them the care that they want. But, when is it time to make the decision that home caregiving by the family can no longer be sustained and it is time for assisted living? This, of course, depends on the family and the health of the parents. Eventually, though, it won’t be a single incident or a long discussion with other family members. Something inside of caregivers will say “it’s time.”

Family caregivers go through a range of emotions and stress when taking care of parents in need. The family usually makes the decision to keep the loved ones at home and work together to take care of them. But, this type of caregiving takes a lot of coordination and can be very time-consuming, particularly if there is only one caregiver. Your everyday life is turned upside down and caregiving can put a strain on your marriage, your relationship with your own children and your finances. In addition, if you have siblings that are not helping (or think they are but really aren’t), this puts a strain on your relationship with them. You become resentful because your siblings continue to lead their normal lives and you, either by choice or by process of elimination, are shouldering the “burden.”

Then there’s the guilt. The guilt of being angry at your parents because you have to tell your spouse and children you can’t do something with them because you have to tend to your parents. The guilt of wanting to move to another state, but you can’t leave your parents and you resent them for not being able to move. The guilt of being impatient around your parents and lashing out at them with frustration. And the guilt of feeling like you are a failure at taking care of them and that the care you give them is not adequate.

We all have our limits. You will know deep down when you have hit your limit because you can no longer physically or emotionally care for your parents. Whether you are caring for them in their home or if they have moved into your home, you will know. You will get to the point where their physical or mental needs are not being met by you. They might be falling frequently, or their dementia has gotten to the point where they need constant medical attention. You always told yourself that it is in their best interests to keep them at their home or your home, but now you are realizing that their best interests are with full time assistance from professionals. You may have promised them over and over again that you will take care of them and you will never put them in a “home.” But their age and health has come to the point where they either need assisted living or need full time professional care at home. Depending on their finances, full time home care may not be an option. Guilt, stress, strain, finances, promises, other alternatives – these are all considerations that must be dealt with when making the decision that your parents will be better off in assisted living. And once you have made peace with the fact that you can no longer do it and that they will be best served by professionals, a small voice will come from within and tell you “it’s time.”