Home Instead Senior Care (Burnaby and South Vancouver) was an exhibitor at the "Seniors' Safety and Awareness" event held at the Bonsor Community Centre, Burnaby on Jun 21, 2018.
The informative event was organized by the Burnaby Seniors Resources Society (BSRS) to increase awareness on key senior safety topics and highlight areas where the elderly in our Burnaby and South Vancouver communities are the most susceptible. Presenters at the event included:
The exhibitors included seniors' focused enterprises including the RCMP, Mulberry Parc residence, Chartwell Residences, apart from Home Instead Senior Care (Burnaby and South Vancouver).
With tax season just having passed us, CRA scams have taken all the headlines, and many seniors were duped, but in reality, the gamut of scams targeting vulnerable seniors is increasing by the day. From benign offers for unwanted magazine subscriptions, to humane donations requests to feed hungry children or pleas for product purchases to protect an innocent youth from losing his job, seniors are always on the radar of scammers.
At Home Instead (Burnaby and South Vancouver), we got a glimpse of seniors at risk with one of our own clients when we took on the assignment for 24/7 care of a kind elderly lady in Burnaby, whose family (daughter, son-in-law and grandchild) engaged our services as they needed a long overdue respite vacation. The lady had dementia but it was her family's desire that their 'nana' stay safe and healthy at home while they were away for two weeks in the US. We assigned our caregivers to be with her daily and within the first few days saw how seniors tend to get targeted. At first, our client started getting multiple visits from people claiming to be from her church. The number of people visiting and frequency of visits was odd but the caregivers did not assume much given the church angle. Soon three people started visiting her multiple times daily and on the sixth day of our care asked the caregiver to leave the room as they wanted to speak privately with our client. While our caregiver relented, her suspicions were raised. Soon our client walked out and head toward her bedroom wanting to retrieve her check book. The caregiver politely inquired more and learnt that the client wanted to give a blank check to the 'nice people' as they needed some money urgently for the church! That set the alarm bells ringing and our caregiver took charge. She informed the visitors she couldn't allow the client to give them the check until she cleared it with her Home Instead office. We promptly received a call from our caregiver updating us on the situation and immediately informed our client's family in the US. As expected the family was bewildered at the series of events. They told as that while the client did make small donations to her church, this request for a blank check was irregular and very alarming. They asked us to intervene and not allow any such hand-off of a check. We immediately alerted our caregiver to this and learnt from her that when the three visitors realized that she was indeed checking with her office, they hurriedly left, claiming they had an important errand to attend to and would return sometime later. Through the rest of our care those three folks never visited the client again. In this instance the presence of mind of our caregiver averted possible fraud but we realized how easy a target a senior can be.
As we observed with our own experience, what makes seniors easy prey for fraudsters and enhances the magnitude of such scams is that a large percentage of our senior population in BC that are currently living independently and are expected to continue doing so in the coming decades (by 2030, it is expected that nearly 1.3 million seniors will be living independently in BC).
As scammers devise more ingenious ways to defraud seniors, we as a community need to remain as vigilant as we can so that we can protect our seniors from being deceived and participate in their desire to age happily in their homes!