Emerging Threats faced by Senior Citizens

In the increasingly globally connected world, more and more youth are delving out to far off lands, away from the cities, town or villages where they grew up, in search of enhanced employability. Empowered with the amazing connectivity that the internet provides, we experience the “shrinking” of the world where geographical distances don’t really act as an impediment. 

However, one can’t really replace the “Physical” presence and support with one’s “Virtual” presence when it comes to our loved parents and elders. Due to the complex & myriad dynamics that exist in the world, we often require the assistance of dedicated Elder Care Companies that cater to the in-person care of the Seniors. 

Despite every effort by external agencies or systems, we encounter in numerous cases where elders, due to their lack of knowledge, comfort or unfamiliarity with tech-based tools & systems, often fall a trap to online or offline frauds. Such cases invariably result in two broad outcomes – Firstly, there is a financial impact where the Seniors end up losing their hard-earned life savings. Secondly, there is a more serious Physical, Psychological & Emotional impact resulting from developing a deep feeling of Distrust & Fear – both with technology as well as a fear of outsiders or at times, even own loved ones. There is also the danger of physical harm that the elder faces from inimical elements, taking advantage of their vulnerability. 

A study of such cases reveals that in most of the cases of Elder Abuse, the perpetrators were either known or trusted by the Senior. The Elder Care Industry in most of the Developed nations has matured and generally partners with verified Third Party Agencies with Employees having undergone proper Verification with references being provided. Though the same is also carried on in developing countries like India, there is yet, a gap. This gap is caused due to innumerous factors like lack of sensitivity & awareness and a generally corrupt system with low accountability. In addition, there is also a question of Financial viability, where to attract well- qualified care-givers, one as to incur higher costs, which ultimately have to borne by the customer, who often chooses lower price over higher quality. This fine balance is severely impacted by market dynamics where smaller, fly-by-night service providers make a quick buck, putting our loved elders to potential harm & risk. There is, however, a positive note that the maturity & awareness levels have definitely shown improvement and are slowly moving towards the same standards as developed nations.  

Even in a scenario of 100% trust, it is imperative that we must educate our loved ones living independently on some basic caveats that must be always kept paramount. These caveats, once followed, drastically reduce the risk exposure of the elders. A few of these caveats are listed below. Readers are welcome to add more in their comments for the greater benefit of all.

  • Always have an encryption lock on your smartphone– Pattern, Biometric, Passcode, it can be anything that one prefers.
  • Always enable SMS alerts for your bank transactions. 
  • Never Leave your Smart Phone unattended in the presence of any outsider or hand it over without supervision at all times.
  • Never reveal your bank account details to anyone.
  • If you have the need to send someone to withdraw cash, NEVER hand over your ATM card with a pin to the person. It is much safer to hand over a Cheque to be cashed at the bank. This reduces the risk exposure to only the amount of the cheque and keeps ones balance savings safe. 
  • Never reveal a PIN, Auth Code, OTP to anyone. 
  • Never reveal the presence of valuables or keep valuables outside in the plain sight of everyone.
  • Keep only as much cash as is normally required, too much cash at home can be tempting. 
  • Always ignore any calls received from so-called-bank managers or agents who tell you that your card is going to be blocked or some other excuse to make you share an OTP or your Aadhaar/Account Number. Remember, your banker would never call you. Its only agents with ulterior motives.

These are only some of the guidelines with respect to technology that our elders must be educated on. Though there can never be a 100% foolproof idea to avoid being defrauded or cheated, following such steps definitely reduces ones risk exposure and hence enhances the safety of our loved elders.

Take Care, Be Safe!

Tripti Balaji
Head, Customer Experience,
Team Anvayaa

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