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Finance & Service Provider Management Tools for Caregivers and Families

My concept is provide a tool in which family members are able to gain limited access to service provider accounts and manage irregular expenditures and withdrawals for their aging loved ones to stymie exploitation and solicitation.

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9 11

Written by DeletedUser

There is no way to prevent the attempts of exploitation and solicitation of our aging population, whether it be from television commercials, telemarketers, service providers or scams. I believe a finance and service provider management tool could help remedy situations in which entities are taking advantage of our senior citizens.  This could be helpful during a seniors transition out of independency, which can be quite frustrating and painful for everyone involved.

A finance management tool, such as Mint or Check.me, could provide a platform in which family members could watch over their aging parents accounts. The caregivers will be notified when an unusual expenditure or withdrawal has been made, giving them the ability to halt payment or verify its reasoning. 

A service provider management tool would allow caregivers varying degrees of access to their elders accounts. This could allow caregivers to schedule maintenance appointments, adjust services, and watch payments.

Why are these tools important?
A large portion of the current elderly population are not tech-savvy. Many do not use the internet to check statements or make payments. If they only use paper and phone calls you can be a little stuck if you don't live close enough to review their statements. Service providers won't allow access to accounts unless you are made a custodian by the primary holder. This can be difficult if the aging family member still believes they are independent. If an aging family member is stubborn (we all get this way at times) they can be a prime target for exploitation. In most situations, one elderly spouse manages these household functions. If something happens to this spouse, this tool would allow the family and living elder to take over seamlessly. This tool is intended for the senior population that want to stay home or live with family (cottage etc.) and maintain independence.

Personal Experiences:
After living with and caring for an elderly family member, the following problems started to reveal themselves. 
  1. The amount of phone calls my grandparents received each day (despite being on the "Do Not Call" list), in which an entity was seeking donation, surveys, new business, or altered services from their current providers. Examples include: charities, campaigns, various insurance (such as final expense/burial insurance), banks, credit cards, satellite providers, and many more
  2. Kinds of tactics being used (despite knowledge of age and increased chances of intellectual decline): 
  • number of calls
  • number of attempts to stay on the line
  • pace in which they talk (different accents don't help either)
  • attempts to prey on loneliness
  • asking for a spouse without indicating who is calling
  • calling back and asking for the other spouse
  • unknown caller ID numbers
  • scams that ask for money grams 
  • scams that ask for private information
  • scams that distress emotionally to take money
3. Altering service plans that have credit cards on account. These will add monthly charges, escalating prices, or free trials that turn into an annual charges. 
4. Overselling a product and under performing 
5. Selling services that are unnecessary
6. Service Technicians purposefully sabotaging products so they will need to be replaced sooner or convincing the elder to upgrade.

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

This idea can scale as a common sense safeguard for seniors that still want financial independence. With instability in pensions and social security, every dollar will need to be managed properly. Since this is a tool primarily for the younger caregivers and family, the technological aspect will not be a hinderance. This product could be used by anyone and isn't dependent on socioeconomic status. Using the internet, technology, and social media can make for a product with less barriers.

How might your idea attract and involve partners from health care, business, government, nonprofit or other sectors?

Healthcare, government, and nonprofit: help prepare aging citizens for inevitable circumstances - help set up the program with family members before the need for dependency - activate the service after testing competence, user choice, or exposed issues Business: access to service provider to aggregate information, companies with similar tools in use

How might you design an early experiment or prototype to further develop your idea?

In the images above, I included some mockup pages of what could be provided. Having access to account numbers, phone numbers, and email addresses all in one place could help tremendously. An in-app messenger would allow family members to divvy up responsibility and provide information. The financial tool could provide possible explanations as to why the electric bill went up this month and let you know if a similar charge reoccurs next month. Notifications of yearly maintenance and/or new medical dosage information could be helpful as well.

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Photo of Bianca Datta
Team

I think this is a really, really important aspect of aging that you've addressed here (great idea!). One thing I would worry about though is how you present the tool - it seems to be that often times as people age, even if they really need some external oversight and help, they would not want to feel like someone is taking over their finances (and neither would I!). I know that's not the intention of this concept, but I think the way it is pitched to potential users would need to be very specific.

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