Almanza: Helping seniors live their best life

As Bank of America’s Arizona president, I take protecting the financial security of all those living in our great state seriously.

Having served Arizona families for over 100 years Bank of America has a unique understanding of the experience, responsibilities and opportunities that can come with aging here in one of the fastest growing retirement locations in the country.

Benito Almanza

As we live longer, better lives, the population of people over 65 is expanding to record levels. It is in everyone’s interest to see our loved ones make the most of their “golden years.”

This is not just on the retirement planning side, but also to protect our seniors from being victims of fraud.

It’s sadly during the holiday season that reports of elder abuse spike along with fraud attempts against our most vulnerable senior population. There are ways we can be extra vigilant of financial scams aimed at a trusting public, including seniors.

Guarding against fraud 

To help seniors understand the growing dangers of elder fraud, we must educate them on the risks and preventative measures to avoid exploitation. Every employee at Bank of America is trained, proficiency tested and directed to escalate potential problems that may indicate scams or exploitation that target older clients. Our Better Money Habits program has educational tools that teach people how to protect their identity and keep financial information safe.

The most common types of financial scams include:

  • A con artist telling someone they owe a large sum of money, and the fraudster is willing to work with the person if they will make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from their bank account
  • An offender encourages an unsuspecting victim to wire or send money on the pretext the person’s loved one is in the hospital and needs cash fast
  • Soliciting donations for bogus charities, which often occurs after natural disasters, tragic events or during the holiday season

Financial Power of Aging Population

Nationwide, more than 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, a trend that will continue until 2029. On average, they can expect to live into their mid-80s, increasing the population over the age of 65.

“Boomers” over 50 years old control $5 trillion in consumer spending, with data from Bank of America showing spending and transactions by card holders in the 65+ age range up six percent over August last year.

This increase in longevity and spending power may allow seniors to experience their golden years differently than past generations. However, this new way of life also presents issues that seniors should be aware of and prepare for. From ever-evolving financial scams to an unwelcome health diagnosis like Alzheimer’s, seniors will need resources that help them adequately prepare to live their best financial life and mitigate risks.

The new definition of retirement

Retirement is no longer viewed as a time when people leave the workforce and fade into a quiet life. As people are living longer, seniors are finding retirement to be a second act. Bank of America has Life Events Checklists to help people navigate through both planned and unexpected changes that may affect finances.

With active, mobile lives, many find less is more when it comes to housing. Any profit from the sale of a home, can be used in a variety of ways, whether to bolster income in retirement or help family members further their education. It’s important to consider the financial aspects of these decisions.

The possibility of cognitive decline

Most seniors cite Alzheimer’s as the “scariest health condition of later life,” with most concerned about becoming a burden on their family (78 percent) and a loss of dignity (56 percent). While this condition will not affect every senior, every family should have conversations to plan for the costs of long-term healthcare needs, important tasks such as appointing a power-of-attorney and organizing health directives.

Many family members will also turn into caregivers when loved ones are diagnosed with a cognitive impairment. For these families, Bank of America has created a caregiver’s checklist with key considerations for these tough situations, including what assistance is needed and available.

Working together

As the elder population grows in size, seniors and our society as a whole will encounter opportunities and challenges. Public and private organizations can work together to provide education and services on a variety of issues important to this population. There are many agencies, such as the Governor’s Council on Aging, that offer resources to seniors and their families. Whether it’s tips on exploring work in retirement, identifying and preventing financial abuse, or preparing for unexpected health issues, the common goal should be to help seniors live the best life possible.

Editor’s Note: Benito Almanza is the Arizona President of Bank of America.

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