Based on demographics, there is a growing need for persons (including individuals, nonprofits, and others) to manage money for others. Currently, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 16 million Americans provide unpaid care for people with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. By 2050, the association projects that the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s will rise to nearly 14 million.
Today there are more than 46 million adults age 65 and older living in the United States. By 2050, that number is expected to grow to almost 90 million, or 1 in 5 Americans. Today, age is not synonymous with loss of mental ability to manage one’s affairs, but it can be accompanied by some reduced mobility.
Between these two demographics, there is an increasing need to enhance resources for financial caregivers for vulnerable adults. The following is a brief collection of some of the helpful federal resources available online for consumers and their caretakers. They can be used to educate clients, the general public, caretakers, and other stakeholders.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB was given authority by the Dodd Frank Act to provide consumer education as well as protection. Furthermore, the CFPB specifically serves economically vulnerable consumers and older adults and their families.
To help the millions of Americans manage money or property for a loved one who is unable to pay bills or make financial decisions, the CFPB has released specific consumer-friendly guides. For each area, there are national as well as several state specific guides. In addition, there are links to some guides prepared for others, such as AARP in conjunction with Texas Appleseed in Texas.
Guides for Court-Appointed Guardians. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/managing-someone-elses-money/guardian-guides/
Government Fiduciaries. These guides are for those who have been appointed by a government agency to manage another person’s income benefits, such as Social Security or Veterans Affairs benefit checks. https://www.consumerfinance.gov/consumer-tools/managing-someone-elses-money/fiduciary-guides/
FDIC Consumer News. The FDIC provides numerous resources for all stakeholders, including banks, consumers, and their representatives. One of these is its Consumer News, a monthly e-newsletter. For more information about the publication and how to subscribe, go to the FDIC website: https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/news/ There are frequent articles about protecting seniors from financial abuse as well as news about recent scams. These are available in English and Spanish.
Money Smart for Older Adults. This program is a joint project of the FDIC and the CFPB. https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/olderadult.html The materials include an instructor guide, slides, and a resource guide.
FTC. The Federal Trade Commission is active in education on elder financial abuse and enforcement actions. A report on its activities in 2018-2019 includes helpful information about the activities that it has addressed: https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/protecting-older-consumers-2018-2019-report-federal-trade-commission/p144401_protecting_older_consumers_2019_1.pdf Although the FTC does not undertake individual actions, it provides helpful information, like “Spotting elder financial abuse.” https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2015/08/spotting-elder-financial-abuse
Final Words. The web pages and materials described above certainly do not include the entire universe of resources available online. However, they are written for consumers and provide helpful guidance—or warnings—to protect vulnerable adults. The material is authoritative, and best of all worlds, free!