The Tony Steuer Podcast

Get Ready! with Shawna Reeves: Preventing Elder Financial Abuse

May 02, 2020 Tony Steuer Episode 18
The Tony Steuer Podcast
Get Ready! with Shawna Reeves: Preventing Elder Financial Abuse
Chapters
The Tony Steuer Podcast
Get Ready! with Shawna Reeves: Preventing Elder Financial Abuse
May 02, 2020 Episode 18
Tony Steuer

“Change is going to happen from the top down, not waiting for a bad agent to get turned in to adult protective services, to then get prosecuted -that is not how change is going to happen. It’s really going to happen when the companies themselves start looking at those trends and the data and reining people in, that’s absolutely how it’s going to happen” - Shawna Reeves

In this episode of GET READY!, I spoke with Shawna Reeves who is the Director of Elder Abuse Prevention at the Institute on Aging. Shawna and I discussed best practices that insurance agents can implement to help reduce elder financial abuse. We also covered how older adults (and their families) can keep them from being the victims of financial abuse.

Please subscribe to the GET READY! With Tony Steuer podcast.

Bio
: Shawna Reeves is currently the Director of Elder Abuse Prevention at the Institute on Aging. Shawna has worked as a consumer advocate for twenty years.  Her role includes creating an innovative and coordinated community response to elder abuse in Northern California, running San Francisco’s Elder Abuse Forensic Center and Multidisciplinary teams along with training professionals and the public on elder abuse prevention, response, and laws, presenting at state and national conferences on elder abuse trends and interventions, educating lawmakers and provide policy recommendations related to elder consumer protection. 

Shawna has received numerous awards for her work and leadership including the Aging Innovation Award, Aging Achievement Award, Service Recognition Award and was honored with a resolution recognizing her contributions to the field of elder justice by the Commission on the Status of Women. 

Show Notes Transcript

“Change is going to happen from the top down, not waiting for a bad agent to get turned in to adult protective services, to then get prosecuted -that is not how change is going to happen. It’s really going to happen when the companies themselves start looking at those trends and the data and reining people in, that’s absolutely how it’s going to happen” - Shawna Reeves

In this episode of GET READY!, I spoke with Shawna Reeves who is the Director of Elder Abuse Prevention at the Institute on Aging. Shawna and I discussed best practices that insurance agents can implement to help reduce elder financial abuse. We also covered how older adults (and their families) can keep them from being the victims of financial abuse.

Please subscribe to the GET READY! With Tony Steuer podcast.

Bio
: Shawna Reeves is currently the Director of Elder Abuse Prevention at the Institute on Aging. Shawna has worked as a consumer advocate for twenty years.  Her role includes creating an innovative and coordinated community response to elder abuse in Northern California, running San Francisco’s Elder Abuse Forensic Center and Multidisciplinary teams along with training professionals and the public on elder abuse prevention, response, and laws, presenting at state and national conferences on elder abuse trends and interventions, educating lawmakers and provide policy recommendations related to elder consumer protection. 

Shawna has received numerous awards for her work and leadership including the Aging Innovation Award, Aging Achievement Award, Service Recognition Award and was honored with a resolution recognizing her contributions to the field of elder justice by the Commission on the Status of Women. 

Speaker 1:

Welcome

Speaker 2:

To the get ready with Tony Stewart podcast in partnership with insurance nerds today, I'm pleased to be joined by Shauna Reeves, Shauna . Good afternoon. How are you ? How are you? Good, good. Thanks for joining me. Thank you, Tony . Uh , in this episode, we'll be discussing consumer advocacy and preventing elder abuse. Shawna Reeves is currently the director of elder abuse prevention at the Institute on aging. Sean has worked as a consumer advocate for 20 years. Her role includes creating an innovative and coordinated community response to elder abuse in Northern California, running San Francisco's elder abuse forensic center and multidisciplinary teams along with training professionals and the public on elder abuse prevention, response and laws presenting at state and national conferences on elder abuse trends and interventions, educating lawmakers and providing policy recommendations related to elder consumer protection. Sean is spearheaded the veterans benefits protection project and innovative partnership that educates elders and their families about scams associated with a VA aid and attendance benefit. Shawna is also active in the community , uh, serving on the California department of insurance curriculum board, tri chair on the San Francisco department on the status of women's family violence council. Uh, along with a number of other things is , uh, Sean has got an amazing background and , uh , Shawna has also received numerous awards for her work in leadership, including the aging innovation award aging achievement award surface recognition award, and honored with a resolution, recognizing our contributions to the field of elder justice by the commission on the status of women. So Shauna, what do you do with all that? How do you summarize it when somebody says, Hey, what do you do?

Speaker 3:

What do I do? Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me on the podcast to many . Um, it's an honor, and I think I told you this already, but I have your book. I don't know if it's the only book that you've written, but I have your most recent book. Yes . Um, what do I do? A good question. The elder abuse prevention program at the Institute on aging in San Francisco has been around since 1984. Um , and it's had many kind of twists and turns and different kinds of versions. Um, well, all the time keeping it . So it's saying name , um, but what we do now is mainly two things do trainings. We train , uh, what are called mandated reporters for elder abuse. So those are people who are mandated by law to report suspected elder abuse when they detect it , the people who fall fall under this category of mandated reporter , uh, social workers, nurses, and California bankers, most recently investment advisors and broker dealers. Um , all of these people must report suspected elder abuse , uh , to adult protective services or law enforcement. And one of our main jobs is to an aging elder abuse prevention program is to train people on how to detect elder abuse and how to do that reporting that they're required to do. Um, so we do about 40 to 50 of those presentations per year, inevitably come up for us. Um, about the system itself, about elder abuse, we learn a lot from the providers out in the community that we train a lot of , uh , new scans , um, things that we wouldn't necessarily hear about because we're not doing direct service. Um, so one of the main things we do are these presentations , um, a lot a third thing, actually, I think the other thing that we do is we run the elder abuse forensic center , uh, elder abuse, forensic center, and multidisciplinary team for the city and County of San Francisco. Uh, we're one of four in the state. We're very proud of this. Um, the four were started at the same time, the same funding source , uh, back in 2008 and had been going strong ever since. Uh, we meet every two weeks , uh, to discuss San Francisco's most difficult to solve elder abuse cases. The cases are brought to us by adult protective services workers who are just stuck and not sure what to do , um , with these cases and the people around the table, we'll come up with suggestions and case plans and support for these APS workers so that they can help their clients. Uh , the people around the table in those meetings are of San Francisco district attorney's office SFPD , um, the San Francisco public guardians office , um, Institute on aging , uh, runs and facilitates it. We also have any physician from San Francisco general hospital and a , uh, Gerald psychologist. Um, so a psychologist that focuses on the needs of older adults , um, who is also employed by Institute on aging, who can do neuropsychological testing. And there are probably other people around the table that I'm missing. Oh , uh, Neil Granger, who was also a guest on your program, not too long ago, he is our expert on , uh, on issues related to insurance and he's also a member of the team. Um, and so we meet every two weeks , um , for that. And then every fourth meeting, we opened it up to the community so that anyone can come and talk about a case that they have, or maybe learn about elder abuse. We call that the multidisciplinary team versus forensic center. And in those team meetings, there's no confidential information disposed at all. Um , because again, the public is allowed in. So everything that happens in that room that day , um , is , uh , anonymous, confidential. Um, and then we also have someone coming from an agency that does elder abuse prevention work or something related and give a presentation on kind of what they're doing to prevent elder abuse. So those were our two main things that we do. I can tell you about the third year . Interesting .

Speaker 2:

Well, there's , there's a lot to unpack there. Um , I know you keep a little bit busy with all those different things , uh , you know, and we'll definitely dive deeper in there. Um, you know, one of the questions I always like to ask people too is , uh, especially because we have some younger people in the insurance nerds, audiences, how did you get started? How did you end up , uh , doing what you do?

Speaker 3:

Well , I liked so much that the name is insurance nerds. Um, cause I'm definitely an elder abuse prevention nerd. Um, I really fell into this profession , um , so fortunate and so lucky that it happened, but it wasn't , it was by chance. I got my start working on fair housing issues when I was , um , in college as an intern and out of college , uh, working on fair housing investigations specifically , um, so fighting discrimination and looking at ways to get people reasonable accommodations for their housing. And then I went to grad school to get my master's in social work. And when I came back, I landed at the exact same place, fair housing. I did find a job right away and they hired me back. I was like, okay, well that's good. Um , and while I was doing that , um, I got a job at council on aging, Silicon Valley. Uh , they took a chance on me , um, to be a case manager for older adults in the multi purpose senior services program, otherwise known as MSSP, the Medi-Cal waiver program, which means that elders with Medi-Cal who want to stay in their homes and not go into nursing homes, get provided, supports that they can stay and thrive in the community with the help of the social worker and the nurse. Um, so I had that job and I really liked it. That's how I discovered that I liked was that there wasn't much policy in it. Um, I felt like I was kind of doing the same thing day in and day out. And I like to kind of do things more on a macro level. So they worked in transportation for a little while , um, paratransit more specifically. And then I got a call , um, to come back to council on aging because they, this is the main thing . Um, they had gotten a grant that actually combined my love of housing policy and elder justice, pretty sizable grant. They wanted me to be the social worker on that grant and work with the law foundation, Silicon Valley this way worked very closely with when I was doing for housing work. So that was really the start of my consumer protection work and right . Completely fell in love with the field is difficult, is that work was, we were working on cases involving elders who had been sold predatory mortgage loans and were getting kicked out of their homes. Um, it was really that program and those relationships that made me want to stay in the field forever. Um, and it's just weird how it all came full circle, but also like very nice,

Speaker 2:

Definitely. Well, you know, I mean, that's so important that the work that you do, and unfortunately there are so many financial , uh, predators about there. Uh, so, you know, that brings up a question for me is , um, insurance agents , uh, T to what degree are insurance agents , uh , mandatory reporters , uh, to you?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So your audience is a national audience, right? Correct. Yeah. And you know, I did try to figure that out before

Speaker 2:

[inaudible] ,

Speaker 3:

Uh, so at present, so I can speak to California, currently insurance agent, they're not on that list of mandated reporters, but as of January 1st investment advisors and broker dealers are, so I know that there can be some crossover. Um, and I tried to figure out if other States had insurance agents on their list and what I, what popped up was a giant list from a law school that had every single , um , state on it, including every category. And I didn't have time to figure out , um , if insurance agents were included. Um, so again, I can speak to California, but I would encourage your, your , um, subscribers to figure that out , um, to see if their state does have them on the list of mandated reporters in California. Um, to my knowledge, they are not, unless they are broker dealers or investment advisors ,

Speaker 2:

That's, that's really important. And, you know, I mean, something, you know, let me pose this to you because I think this is important for people. One of the things that I've always talked about as best practices. So I think would you say would be a reasonable best practice for people in the insurance industry, even if they're not sure if they're a mandated reporter that it's in everybody's best interest , if they assumed and acted like they were mandated reporter.

Speaker 3:

Yes. So just because you're not mandated, does it mean that you don't have the option to report? And so yes, I absolutely encourage people to report. Um, there are ways that, I mean, it depends on the case, but you can be open with your clients about , um, wanting to report. You can actually help the clients file their own reports. I don't want to get on here and say, you know, just because you make an , uh , a report to adult protective services, everything's going to be fixed , um , and wrapped up and me both Thai and the other is going to be fine. Um, but it does help to make those reports. Um, only one out of 14 cases of elder abuse are reported to adult protective services or law enforcement. When we make those reports, it's helping not only put elder abuse on the radar, but help those elders access , um , supports that they might not know about. Um, I also , uh, and I , I think it's really important to, I just pointed out that APS won't solve everything for your clients. It's also a voluntary service. So if the elder gets a knock on the door from APS services and they just don't want to participate , um , there's no last thing that they need to be able to get the services social worker can walk away. And some people are just very turned off by social services, knocking on their door. Um, people can be private or scared. There are many factors that work there. Um, so what I also suggest is that , uh, your subscribers look into the , um, the S the state bar approved , uh , lawyer referral services in your area, because a lot of times, elders in addition to social services need legal help. And so if you can help them locate the legal help , uh , that can help a ton , um, for your clients to get justice. Um , if that's what they need , uh, far too many elders are still relying on things like the phone book. I even had a elder who got her attorney through the penny saver. Um, in the end, we were both able to laugh about it, but , um, uh, but that was not the right decision. Um, trying to find your attorney is a very difficult one and doing it based on an advertisement , um, quite dicey. Um, so trying to find out where the legal referrals are, can be very helpful. Um, in addition to making those reports through adult protective services,

Speaker 2:

That's great. That that's super helpful. So, you know, a question on that vein is , um, where areas, where insurance agents and insurance companies can improve their best practices when working with consumers and seniors, especially,

Speaker 3:

I mean, you want to be ethical if everyone you work with, obviously I know in California, there are special protections for senior insurance consumers. Um, but what I like to suggest is that you just do whatever it takes to make sure that what you're helping the elder with is done in an ethical fashion, the transaction. Um, you can tell that, well, I mean, as much as possible that the elder understands what you're discussing with them , um, that you're not putting undue pressure on the elder or , um, using arguments, like, you know, you get this insurance product, then it'll will help you avoid a nursing home and things like that that are generally quite untruthful. Um, so following the laws,

Speaker 2:

Good tip.

Speaker 3:

That's never one . Um, there are trainings , um, on working with senior consumers that I think , uh, can be very useful things that just best , um, kind of like the, the slowing down that can, does it not always happen with the senior brain, but it can make it, so the elders just might need a little more extra time, or they need someone to slow down and not talking like I talk a mile a minute , um, or they need , uh, yeah, just more time to make a decision. Um, those are all sorts of things that I think apply to , uh , to all consumers, but especially senior , uh , consumers. And again, there are special trainings for this , um, and special. I just definitely follow the laws in Europe , um, specific jurisdiction.

Speaker 2:

Well, definitely. And I think one of the underlying themes there, too, that you mentioned early on is that you should treat everybody like that and treat everybody with consideration and ethically and fairly. Um,

Speaker 3:

Yeah , so

Speaker 2:

It's pretty sound advice, and I think it would lead to happy customers anyway, and it keeps your Eno claims down at the same time.

Speaker 3:

Right? Um, yeah, it's going to say, like, not to use fear as the tactic, but, but there are ways that you can abuse , um, an older person that might not look super intentional, but , um, but in the end, if you're , um, if you're pressuring them, if you're using undue influence , um, the law on undue influence has recently been updated in California. Um, yeah, you could get into trouble. So I don't want to keep that in the back of your mind as well. Um, am I acting ethically , um, am I trying to get one over on this elder , um, and doing it by exploiting certain vulnerabilities that they have? So those are all sorts of sort of things that you want to keep in mind.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's great advice. Um, and when I think everybody should put in practice, you know, just, you know , especially for elders, but for dealing with any of their clients, if, if you have to question anything that you're doing or not be able to explain it to somebody else or feeling like, eh, it's not quite the right thing is , and maybe, you know , it's not something you should be doing. Um, so that's sound advice. Um, so what are some of the main trends that you're seeing now, utter abuse, prevention and intervention? It sounds like things are changing and there's some new laws going into effect.

Speaker 3:

Um, yeah, there are some trends in , there are some new laws and I'm glad you brought up the new laws because it made me think of something I just left , uh , in terms of trends, we're seeing much of this stuff moving online. And even if it's not online , um, it's like a combination of telephone and online , um, robocalls have gone through the roof. Uh, 70% of people recently when they were pulled by consumer reports. So they don't even bother to answer their phone anymore. Um, there were 54 billion robocalls , uh, this year , um, which is up from 48. The previous year, I received two robocalls myself this morning before this podcast. Um, these are all sorts of things that I wasn't seeing. Um, when I started this work, I used to have something that I called bring your mail to Workday, and it was , um, would have clients bring me their scanning mail . Oh, what, what nice days those were when we only had to watch out for scams coming through the mail. Now , uh, everyone's gotten much more sophisticated and by what I mean, cameras. Um, so they're doing these things through the mail and for the phone , um, uh, those are scams or just scam trends that we're seeing that are. Um, so on the ride that they're basically getting the ear of , uh , media , uh , in a way I've never seen before in our field. Um, there's been a , I'd say a chip on our shoulder a little bit as a field that I've noticed thing . You know , people don't care about elder abuse. Um , you don't see it in the news now, you see it everyday . Um, and I think people do care about elder abuse and, and there are new laws that have been passed. I'm thinking most recently , um, president Trump passed the , um, the safe act , um, uh, which protects advisers from facing , uh , liability for making reports to say adult protective services or law enforcement, if they want to make those , um, those calls they are protected from , um, from civil liability for , for doing that. Um, FINRA recently , um, said that , uh , investment advisors are allowed to hold funds for 15 days , um, before disbursement , if they think that an elder is being exploited and then they're also required now to ask their customers, if there's a trusted person that , um, that they can call, should something seem like, should it seem like the elders doing something that's not in their best interest? Is there someone in their life, a trusted person , um , that can be put in the file so that if that happens , um , they can be contacted. Um, those are all moves in the right direction. I would argue it's not gonna solve anything outright, but it helps a lot. Um , these are tools we didn't have last year , um, on the robocall front, the face act was passed into law, and that actually makes it so that it's going to be a lot easier to identify , uh robocallers um, through authentication, authentication , um, methods , um, and it also increases the penalties for robocallers should break, break the law. So these are all positive moves. Um, I know I've gone into senior centers to give presentations and have been told, what are you doing to fix ? Cause I know it's really, really tough. I've heard from seniors, they'll say, you know , um , I got home from the hospital. I'm trying to recover from a hip replacement and my phone keeps ringing off the hook. Now these are people who are trying to get calls from their loved ones and relatives and friends who are checking up on them, but it's frickin robocallers. So , um, so these have real world, real life implications that are outside of like , um , actually losing your money. You actually lose your sanity as well , um, to these calls. But I think that anything that we can do to fight , um, the like million things that I just threw your way. Um , but I think what I'm also showing here is the enormous scope of this problem. Um, I mean, elder abuse is one thing, other abuse incorporates physical, emotional neglect, things like that. And all I've talked about is financial , um, and financial is like its own world and its own kind of out of control world. I would say

Speaker 2:

Definitely. I mean, yeah, it , it , when you say that in given my own experience, I would say out of control and fortunately sums up a lot of it. Um, do you think with some of the implementation of technology that the insurance industry and the greater financial services industry could help , uh, slow down elder abuse?

Speaker 3:

Um, I seen some attempts at helping , um, the epidemic through technology and I'm hopeful. Um, unfortunately technology is also used in the ripping off. Um, so it's a matter of fighting , um , the bad with the good technology. Um, there are some exciting new platforms online for seniors who want to help , um, like monitor their bank accounts , um, versus activity things that I really wish the banks would just do themselves. You wouldn't have to pay a third party. Um, but, but things like that can be useful. Um, there's also a , uh , debit card that it's a lockdown debit card , uh , for seniors that might be suffering from dementia or maybe some other type of cognitive impairment , um, who want access to their money, but they don't want access to the money so they can use it on the wrong things . So , um , they can't pay for a ton of magazines , subscriptions or sharing lotteries or things like that, their money , um, it's a debit card with limits on how the money can be spent and where it would be spent. Um, I think those are incredibly creative ways of addressing the, you know , obviously , um, every little bit helps. Um, I'll go into, in a bit about how seniors can prevent future harm. Um, I'm going to talk about is how elders , um, many who are very private , um, might not be ready to name their durable power of attorney yet. They're not sure who that person should be. Um, but they want someone just to kind of check in and oversee. And so there's a thing called a , um, a read only bank accounts , um, their access through read only. And that's where an elder can , uh , keep the bank account have be the only one with access to the money. But someone like an adult son, daughter, friend , um, can look at the account just to make sure that everything is legit. Um, again, they won't have access, they won't be on the bank account. Um, this , this won't be a joint account, but that , um, that person can just kind of check in and make sure that things were okay. That's a read only option, not all banks offer it, but I think it'd be incredibly helpful. Um, other than that on the technology front , um , for robo calls , um, a lot of app developers have come up with their own solutions and now the phone companies , um , have either caught up or supplementing or even adopting some of those third party , um , tools. Uh , one is called Nomorobo , um, all of this, I think , um, for your subscribers, it would be best if you checked out the great work. Um , uh , and I think that if you look at their website, they'll show you the different options because it depends which tool you use depends on whether you have a cell phone or landline who your provider is, but there are many creative solutions now to stopping robocalls from getting to your phone, or at least , uh , having fewer of them come to your phone. So I think that's really helpful,

Speaker 2:

Definitely. Well, whether you're a senior or not, I think everybody in America has definitely had enough of robot coffles and I'm at the point where we don't answer our home phone anymore because it's only robo callers who have that number. It seems like Exactly. Um , but anyway, that's unfortunately where we've gotten. Um, so, you know, with the graying of America, do you feel that the problem is going to get worse before it gets better, or some of these new measures gonna kick in and help is , um, we become an aging or we are an aging country.

Speaker 3:

It's difficult. So when, when you're looking at the scans that are happening on the phone and online , um , for a lot of them actually younger people are the , the vast majority of people following them are younger. They're not older. And yeah, it's an interesting , um, statistic that's come out. Um, but older adults have the wealth in this country. They tend to, they have a lot more than the millennials that's for sure. Um, and so when they get hit, they get hit hard. Um , and they're also targeted for that reason. Um, and so now you can buy lists, they're called sucker lists. Um, if an elder , um, puts their money or puts their name into a lottery , um , like one of these big lotteries or sends money off to a fake charity , um, and then they maybe do it a couple of times. They can end up being put on a list that then gets bought and sold to other bad people who will then try and look to them for more donations. And it just kind of spirals from there. Um, those are some of the dangers that, that we're looking at. Um, I don't see much happening to fix those sucker lists . Um, a lot of it's undergrounds , it's hard to, hard to tell how to tackle that. Um, I , I want to be helpful . Um, but I'd say that , um, elder kind has really just been clobbered by this stuff. Um, at least in the time that I've been doing it , um, I mean, you work in elder abuse prevention for as long as I have, and you'd hope that there'd be some kind of the, the ship would be turning around a little bit. And if anything, we're just seeing the financial abuse taking off. Uh , I think because of that awareness and because the media thing more attention to it, I think people are more savvy , um, for your subscribers. If you're interested, we put up some flashcards on five top five scans that , um, that elders tend to see. We , we're all seeing what that elders tend to see as well , um, to help with that education piece. It turns out that it's not all that helpful just to tell elders, Hey, watch out for scans. Uh, you actually want to tell them what to look for. I think, I think that applies to all of us like, Joel, why are your money overseas? Okay , that's great. Well, like what is a grandparent scam or what does a tech support scam ? And so we created flashcards that are on our website to warn people about that. Um , one scam I wanted to talk about and just telling you about all of that things now that we've seen an explosion in is the romance scam , um, which is , uh, scammers that use online dating platforms to get at older adults. Uh , this one's really taken off and it's just super sad because it's this combination of like an elder feeling lonely and wanting to date. Uh, but then not knowing that like people on online dating sites might not be who they seem. And a lot of the same people that target you with , um, fake lotteries or IRS scams are the same ones that are on these dating platforms. And so we've seen , uh , incredible amounts of money being handed over , um, via online dating romance scams. And these are people that have contacted the elder and the elders like never met them, but they received flowers from them and they receive tons of messages. And so the elder can think that they're in the relationship. Um, and then really a disturbing is when we see the elder completely , um, like all of their money has gone all their liquids and sometimes their retirement. And so the scammer will then get them to leverage the home. So they'll get them to take out a reverse mortgage and send it. Um, those things are just so, so, so heartbreaking. Um, and it, it just seems like it's not just, I mean, it's on the rise in terms of how it's reported. Like , um, it's being reported more and more to APS it's being reported more and more to the FTC, but that's reports. Like, I just think of so many of the elders who have done this and are too ashamed to talk about it have not reported it it's actually really frightening when you think about the actual toll that this is taking , um, and how many victims are out there.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that is scary. Um, you know, I , and I think the lessons too, for , uh , members of the insurance industry where they could watch out for I'm thinking right away , uh, I'm sure you've seen this as policy loans , uh, on life insurance policies, withdrawals on annuities, and again, on life insurance policies maybe changes in homeowners, insurance policies, suspicious claims , uh, on a homeowners insurance policy, additional insured showing up on an auto or home. I mean, are those some of the areas in the insurance industry where insurance agents and insurance companies could say, Hey, you know, if we see this screen of, you know, the certain data points on , uh , people's policies over a certain age , is that something that the insurance industry could actively participate in using ADA ?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. And that's where the change is going to happen. Um, top-down not like waiting for a bad agent , um, to get turned into adult protective services, to like then get prosecuted that that's not how the change is going to happen. It's really going to happen when the companies themselves start looking at those trends and looking at the data and, and reigning people in , um, that's absolutely how it's going to happen.

Speaker 2:

That's great. Uh, just making a note, because I think that's so important that the companies can, and agents can take an active role that they don't need to sit back. Um, so, you know, speaking, which you know, is pretty much everybody in my audience , uh , for the most part is still in the working community or working age. And we all have parents. Um, and I was thinking, you know, like that debit card is some, we had something similar for my son when he was younger. It is a controlled debit card. Um, what do you recommend to those of us who are working age like you and I we're in the middle? Um, what , what can we do to watch out for our parents?

Speaker 3:

The number one thing you can do is start having this conversation now and not wait. Um, so what I hear over and over and over again , um , again, like not all elders are ready to name their durable power of attorney. And for some, it's like a very good thing that they don't because they actually might be worried , um , that maybe that adult center daughter is not trustworthy . They're just not ready. There's so much out there that says you have to get a DPOA now. Okay, great. Well, if you know exactly who that person should be, do it, if not be very, very careful about that. There's a reason it's also called a license to steal. Um, but just starting that conversation early can be so important. Uh , not treating it as taboo , um, telling the elder that, you know, you're ready for the conversation when they are, they might be the one hesitating to bring it up. They might not want to be a burden to you. Um, they might be kind of nervous about discussing finances at all with you. Uh , it might be that your family just didn't do that. Um, I have my own personal experiences with this that I can draw upon. I remember , um, this is over a decade ago, but my grandma really, really wanted to talk about , uh, her living trust , uh , at Thanksgiving. Um, remember a relative telling me how more, but that was now , we shouldn't be talking about it, but I work at elder abuse prevention. I was very interested. I wanted to hear like what was going on. And so he told me about where she was going for her services to get this living trust more suspicious. Like , God, I was so grateful that she talked to me about it because it turned out that she actually had , uh, had enlisted the services of a company that was not great , uh, that she did not have an attorney writing up for . Living trust is actually notaries , um , in the state of California, that is prohibited. Um, and so in the end, what she had done, that she had paid for a living trust that was not going to protect her estate . Uh , everything was going to go straight to probate. I was so grateful that she brought it up and that we could fix this before it was too late. Um, and I bring up that example , um, because I think people are just really afraid of these issues, but they're also still relieved when they get them taken care of. Um, and I really don't think you can start early enough. Um, which brings me to my other point. So a lot of this stuff is in the shadows. People don't know where to go. Um, I can generally tell people where to go because I've done this work, but I don't, I don't expect everyone to know like how to find a good attorney. Maybe don't use an online service to get your living trust, things like that. Um, but I can generally guide people, but the more people are afraid to talk. The more they're going to be driven into the hands of the people who are not going to act in their best interests. They're gonna open up the phone book, they're going to find a notary. That's going to give them a junk trust. Um, so it's, those are the things that we want to avoid by having conversations early. Um, well , that's great . Um, you know, one of the things that I've started to tell people is , um , I recommend

Speaker 2:

A family financial meeting. Is that something you would recommend that people have family financial meetings?

Speaker 3:

We don't all have families for that , um, possible or advisable?

Speaker 2:

Well, that is a good point. Okay. Point taken

Speaker 3:

Working in this field. Like you don't want to just apply your own family situation to everyone. Uh , but if you do have that, if you do have a family that would be open to it. Absolutely. Um, definitely Teach people the plan. So I'm not telling you anything you don't know . Uh , but yeah, in the, in this context, I think it's extra important. Um, and I think that , uh, what you can do as the family member is just normalize it. Um, don't treat it as taboo. Don't treat it as more of it because the other minority, if you're thinking of that , um, and just be open to the conversation

Speaker 2:

Definitely now, you know, for advisors who are working , um, with clients, is that also something that you see is, is I know sometimes in my practices there'll be one spouse who, you know, that's the thing, they're the ones who deal with the insurance and the other spouse really doesn't know what's going on. Is that something, somehow the advisors can work into the conversation as clients get older, they deepen the relationship, you know, how do you bring that up? Is, you know, like, Hey, does your spouse know what's going on? I mean, you can't ask that question like that, but how do you get other interested parties? You know, like you mentioned , uh, you know, with the trusted other person, how , how does somebody go about doing that or starting that conversation with our clients?

Speaker 3:

It's a great question. And as someone who's not a financial planner, it's harder for me to answer . That's okay . Um , I like to come at things with an air of curiosity. Um, I don't want to come into a meeting with like, here's my agenda. Here's what I want by the end. And I think that anyone who's meeting with elders , um, would be in a really good position if they, if they carry themselves in the same way, because people are going to know when you have an agenda. So if you ask questions like, like, like you put a D does your spouse know about this instead of here's, your spouse should know this, or what happens if something happens to you then? So those sorts of things that are gonna cause people to be very defensive , um, I would say those are not those techniques to use. Um , but being just kind of open and curious and not thinking that everything will be resolved in one meeting , um, pressure's not good. Pressure is not good in the sales and pressures is not pressured , not good in planning. Um, but , but those just being an open, open , um, type of person , um, in those meetings, I think can go a really long way.

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Well, I think you hit on something that's really important is that it's, it's a long conversation. It's not a short conversation. Um, and to continue just to educate your clients, I think it gets back to, you know , uh, whether you're consulting or selling , um, and the nature of a relationship, if you value your clients. I think that you're going to come off in that vein where you'll be doing your clients better service and what you'll be able to help your clients identify some of these issues. And do you also feel that as an industry, that if we were to better educate , um, our clients and the general public about our products and services that that might help , uh, with some of the things you see,

Speaker 3:

So working on that literacy piece? Yeah, yeah, definitely

Speaker 2:

People more financially literate.

Speaker 3:

Um, for sure. I mean, I , I tend to be at the camp that financial literacy is like very important, but it's not everything. Um, and I get very suspicious when I know you're not this way, but like, Oh, we just need to teach people about these products, then they'll just be able to make decisions. Okay. Um , there's more to it than that or worse. Like if we just teach them about products and they won't get abused , um, decent things. Um, cause again, it's more complicated in that , but I think it can help a lot , um, just to make , um, contracts and products and things that , um, it's just very confusing with very opaque language. Um, just more understandable. I think, I think that would help , um, in many areas of our lives actually . Um, but yeah, for financial products . Absolutely. And sometimes it can take a little bit longer to explain a product with an elder , um, especially maybe one who has had a spouse who's done , uh , the financial planning and work in the past, just as someone who, for whom English is not their first language you might need to take a little more time. I think it's really important to explain.

Speaker 2:

Definitely no, I , I , I can see it and you know, it was interesting. I was talking with a client this morning and he's, he's definitely a senior at this point. And I could tell, you know, that over the last few years is that the nature of the conversations has changed a little bit and his , um, his comprehension is a little bit different and , uh, you know, it may take explaining the same thing to him a couple of times or in a, in a different way as rephrasing it , um, to help him , uh, understand that. And I think people need to keep that in mind is that, you know, yeah , it is financial literacy, but it's exactly, as you said, it's more than financial literacy is, you know, first people do need to understand what you're talking about, which is a good thing in any situation, but then they have to know what to look for and, you know, what are the pros and cons and what are the red flags. And that, I think that if we do a good job with our clients , um, in reviewing those things and has an industry and educating people about that is that, you know , w we'll never get all the bad guys. And I think you've been very clear on that in a unfortunately that's why you're keeping really busy is there are a lot of bad guys out there. Um , and unfortunately bad girls too, so we'll be equal opportunity. Um , so, you know, one of the things too you've been involved with , um, I don't wanna have this be a super long podcast. Uh , but th there are a couple of areas of love to just delve into quickly is one is, you know, you've been involved with the legislative process. Is that something other people can become involved with? Um, do you feel you're making an impact?

Speaker 3:

Absolutely. Um , and that's why I do what I do. I love working one-on-one with the elders, but it was really hard to see the same situation where I began . And again, again, thinking men, we can just knock this out with this solution , um, or get these elders together to testify for this. Um, so it's really tough to do the one-offs , um, that weren't one off to see it again and again. Um, and that's why I was so motivated to do policy , um , and to work on those. I think people can definitely get involved. Um, I encourage you to get involved. Uh, it's it's not a simple process. Um, you want to, for sure, like figure out the lay of the land. You have a specific policy idea, want to know, has someone tried it before? Sometimes it's just, the basic is asking, Hey, someone tried this before. This happened to me a number of times , and you find out why didn't it work, or maybe , uh , what hurt his chances that time. But here's what you could do to fix it this time. You want to see who else is , um, is working in the area that you're looking at. Um, I'm a social worker, but I feel like I , I can not just work in my silo. It's social workers. Um , if I'm going to do this, I need to figure out what's happening in the legal world. Need to find out what's happening at the state. I need to figure out what's happening with nonprofits that I didn't even consider, like doing LGBT work , but that's exactly what they're doing. Um, got to check with, check in with them first. Um, and sometimes it's actually a situation where you need to defeat bad legislation. Uh , that can be more important in a lot of ways. Um, and by bad, I mean, sometimes it's just the stuff that does, it seems kind of like fluff, but it's actually going to do a lot of damage. And sometimes you'll see an advocate with a really big part , but Florida proposal. Um, that's just not, not good because it hasn't taken into account. And in the end, your opponents, we're going to change it completely and take it as a victory. So, yeah, I think it's a lot of fun. Um , it's about relationships. You , as you said, working with clients is about relationships doing policy work absolutely about relationships. It's my favorite thing to do. It's , uh , the thing that I think that , uh, the elders I'm working with, I've also gotten the most jazzed about because they would have a really bad thing happened to them, but then they get the chance to go testify about it and make sure that their case is not forgotten and that it leads to something really good, which is protecting a bunch of other elders from the same fate. Um , that's, what's been for me , um, kind of the life-changing part of this work and the stuff that keeps me motivated. So I definitely encourage more people to do policy work. Um, but just like we said before , um, take it slow. Um, you don't come up with like a brilliant idea and like it's gonna get passed in a few weeks. Um , uh, there's, there's a lot of groundwork that has to be like , but it's , it's really rewarding work and I, I really want people to get into

Speaker 2:

Well, that's great. And I think you also had a very important point there for young people , uh, who are starting out in the industry is, you know , just because it hasn't been done yet, it doesn't mean that it can't be done. It just hasn't been done yet. Stay diligent , be involved. Um, so, you know, with all that you have going on , uh, this kind of, one of my standard questions, how do you find balance and organization in your life?

Speaker 3:

Um, well, I have come very close to burnout and I'm glad I didn't , and I seen a lot of people burn out. Um, and I'm sad that that happened. Um , so for me, it's about keeping busy keeping content with, with other things. I have a toddler , um, to focus on , um , like to do things with him, to get my mind off , um, the day job. Um, I can do that quite regularly. Um, but to tell you the truth, like could definitely be better , um, at , uh, both kind of slowing down and the organizational aspects. Um, I, that said, I think I have gotten better at it , um , over the years , um , just because I've had to , um, take care of my child and, and also , um, make sure that I can stay in this field , um, without losing it. Um, so yeah. Um, I think that helps, I think also having fun , um, when I'm doing the work helps, it's incredibly depressing. So at , um, if you just kind of are in it and not thinking about kind of how you can change what's going on or, or like good outcomes , um, at the Institute on aging, people have commented that my department, the LGBTQ men's department seems to have the most joy and fun and, and how it makes absolutely no sense because of what we do is the stuff that we deal with is the deepest, darkest stuff. Um, but I tell them, that's the only way we can do work. Um, if we keep it light in our interactions with each other, and of course these serious need to be, but , um, but I think having a sense of humor is, is really the way to go.

Speaker 2:

That's great. Yeah. I think that's, that's an important thing for all of us to keep in mind is to have a little bit of a sense of humor and some perspective is , um, so that that's great. Um, so, you know, what would be your number one tip on , um, how older adults and their families , um, and in this case, you know, their advisors or companies that they deal with, how, how can they help keep help keep themselves or loved ones from becoming a victim of financial abuse?

Speaker 3:

I wish there was a silver bullet , um, above all. I think that making yourself very aware of how an elder could quickly become shamed , um, becoming a victim, even potentially becoming a victim. Um, you always want that to be your framework. So say an elder has wired money to someone who claimed this happens a lot, actually , um, someone calls, they claim to be the grandchild. They say they're stuck in an overseas prison and in order to get out, they need to wire $5,000 to this fake attorney who then they also put on the phone , um, uh, when elders do that. Um, so it's very crucial that when they come to you to tell them that this has happened, that absolutely no judgment and shaming happens. So you might, you might not understand why your loved one did this , uh , seems kind of loony . Um, but you're , you weren't in their shoes. You didn't get that phone call where the person was crying. Um, and the elder actually thought it was their grandson. And then they had a lot of identifying information about the elder and the grandson, probably because they scoured Facebook , um, and figured this stuff out. Um, so if an elder family loved one reports to you that doesn't happen to them, just make sure that everything you say does not make them feel more shame about what happened, because that will have the effect of closing off for their conversation, making it very difficult to help with the present situation. It's just gonna, just gonna cause a world of hurt , um, elders who come forward. I consider them very brave , um, uh, in a lot of ways , um, cause they're facing that shame. Um, I can use an example , um, of a loved one in my own family. Uh, once we found out about the victimization , um, kind of worst fear scenario started happening. Like she was very worried that it's, we found out that this had happened, that she would lose the ability to , um, manage her own affairs, even drive her car or things like that. Um, and I mean, she had a right to be concerned. The family got much more , um, kind of hands-on about like controlling the bank account and thinking about whether she should drive. Um, so there are all sorts of reasons that elders are not going to want to discuss these situations with their family members. And again, I mean, either potential for victimization planning or once , um , something actually has happened with elder , the very shame. So just when you're having those conversations, you just want to be the most present , um, like attentive, like not judgemental person that you can be for them, even if inside you're really frustrated , um, because not about you and it'll just help so much with that future planning and with the others comfort and , um, all sorts of things. It's just going to make for a better working relationship with your loved one down the road. Um, it's just, it's just going to help. So I think that , um, if the number one thing you can do , um , listen, be thoughtful, be loving and don't, don't make it so that they retreat into their shame even more than they already have. Um, second thing obviously is planning, but , um , there's so much that goes into planning. So , um, um, I can't say one thing or the other durable power of attorney can help and it also can be harmful. Um, elder might need a state planning, things like that. Um, those are definitely all things, but since you asked for one, that's the one thing that I can , um, I can offer kind of like shame, your conversations with him .

Speaker 2:

Definitely one, I think even at the heart of that is it gets back to a theme. Uh, that's run through this podcast that it's really about open and honest , uh, communication. Um, maybe honest isn't quite the right word here, but open and full communication perhaps , um, without judgment. And I think you also hit on that with money. Is that just overall? I think that's one reason why people are , uh, victims of fraud in my experience is that, you know, is there , they're just not sure, you know, there's this whole taboo about money and speaking about money. Uh, yeah . So, you know, I think, you know, this is such valid points. Um, so, you know, we should wrap up , uh , where can people learn more about you? Um, you know, and I'll post any links in the show notes. Sure .

Speaker 3:

Google , um , sure . Uh , it's due an aging has posted some, some helpfully on our web page . I had mentioned those scan flashcards earlier. There are a number of radio shows I've done that are about their posts. Um, I've written some articles, a lot of inner paywalls because they're in journals. Um, but I'm , um , to be a resource for your subscribers so they can contact me through email or phone , um, especially on the legislative stuff. Cause I that's my passion. So , um, people want to contact me about that. Um , they can definitely feel free. Um, but other than that, I'd say the resources on the Institute on aging website are quite good. Um, if you're interested more generally in elder abuse, the national center on elder abuse has really great links about like studies and research initiatives. And I mentioned consumer reports before because they've done such strong ECC work with the robocalls, but consumer reports has like really great , uh , references and things in general on, on elder abuse as well. Um, and I would say the , the FTC website is quite good, especially on things like identity theft. Um, elders are getting their social security, Medicare number stolen all the time. And the FTC has really good step-by-step tools on their website for how to, how to recover after that. Um, and then the last place I would recommend because they have really good fact sheets on a number of , um , of issues affecting seniors is the consumer financial protection Bureau , um , older adult section. And they're putting out new fact sheets, I would say like every other week. So,

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's great. Those are all some great recommendations now be sure to list those . Um, well just the , you know, that, that reminds me of , uh , one final question along that same note is , uh, do you have a blog or are you posting on LinkedIn? Is there somewhere people can follow?

Speaker 3:

I do . I don't post on it, but there are the links to my articles. Um, well , things that have been quoted in some articles on the LinkedIn. So yeah, you're welcome to go to that. Um, blogging. I've not done in a long time. Um, I would love to do that again though. I've written, they're floating out there in the ether. Like I did it like top five under the radar scans. Um , that's still out there somewhere and sadly it still applies even though it's like 10 years old , they're still pretty under the radar. Um, but yeah, like nothing like current that I've done blogging wise. Um , I've been on the donating blog a couple of times in the last few months, but, but nothing that's like , um, like a regular blog for me. Um, but yeah, there's, there's stuff out there and again, here's the thing .

Speaker 2:

Well, and I'll be sure to repost anything that I see from you so that my followers CA uh, can also keep up with what you're doing out there and hopefully you'll come on again and , uh , we can continue the conversation since there's so many areas we didn't get to today. Um, so Shauna , thank you so much for joining me on the get ready with Tony Stewart podcasts . It's been a pleasure to have you

Speaker 3:

Thank you so much. Yeah, let's make a,

Speaker 4:

That sounds great. Yeah.