Thwarting Theft by Caregivers

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Your aging parent, and you need help. You’ve got someone coming into the home to shop for and bathe Dad twice a week. Grandma needs help with cooking, and your worker comes three days a week to do errands and prepare meals ahead of time. It’s a relief. But, in these dire economic times, temptation to take something of value from your elder can rear its ugly head.

Caregivers are often unsupervised in the home for long periods. Our aging parents and elders may be forgetful or have impaired thinking. They’re easy enough to fool. That’s especially true if they trust the caregiver. We’re not suggesting that everyone is a thief. We are suggesting increased caution when times are hard. What’s a family member to do?

Here are five easy, common sense steps you can take now to protect your loved one’s home against theft.

  • 1. Don’t assume that a caregiver you know would never steal. Bad economic times and desperation can drive people to do things they, and you never thought they’d be capable of doing.

  • 2.Remove valuable papers and permanent records from sight and from easy access. This means, the social security card, the deed to the house, the birth certificate, and other, easily copied records. Take them out of the home if they aren’t needed there. If they are needed, lock them up and keep the key in another location.

  • 3.Remove valuable jewelry, precious objects, and easily moved items of great value from your elder’s home. If Dad isn’t going out a lot these days, he might be okay with locking up his $5000 watch.

  • 4.Limit the amount of cash you give the caregiver to use for groceries and other shopping. Check the receipts for all expenditures. Yes, you may have to go to the bank more often for small bills, and that could be inconvenient. But, the precaution is worth the trouble.

  • 5.Use a store-specific gift card for your caregiver to take shopping for your elder. You’ll have a record of what was spent, and on what. The amount will be limited and the risk lower to your aging parent.

No one needs to get suspicious of every move a caregiver makes, and we don’t suggest that most caregivers aren’t to be trusted. For those with agencies, there is normally bonding and insurance to protect you against theft. However, we suggest that it’s far better to have a simple, theft-prevention strategy than to decide not to bother and then have to make a claim with an agency insurance company. Your elder may think this is all unnecessary, but don’t be put off by that. Go ahead and do what is sensible and safe.

If you must take over handling money for your aging loved one, and want some guidelines, read more at The Boomer’s Guide to Aging Parents, How to Handle Money For Aging Loved Ones, as well as How to Choose a Home Care Worker, available at AgingParents.com.

© 2009 Carolyn L. Rosenblatt, R. N., Attorney at Law

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