Financial protection for elders


By Kay Kaylor

Special to The PREVIEW

I advocate for residents at Pine Ridge, a 24-hour extended care home, and BeeHive, an assisted living residence, as the part-time long-term care ombudsman for Archuleta County. Federal and state laws protect residents to promote quality of care and quality of life.

When talking to residents in both homes, often the subject of money comes up, especially the elder’s concern about their bank accounts they had before they moved. In some cases, the family is managing these accounts, and it would be helpful to frequently remind their loved ones about what is happening or happened to their money and why.

Sometimes, elders have legitimate concerns about their money. According to the National Center on Law and Elder Rights, “Controlling access to money and resources is a common way that abusers control their victims,” and elders who have limited income may be particularly vulnerable because they lack surplus funds to start over or move. Victims of such abuse may then end up in a nursing home under Medicaid despite their preferred choices.

Pagosa community members often step in to try to help such vulnerable elders. In a May “Practice Tip” by Odette Williamson, the National Consumer Law Center offers advice on prioritizing debts and stopping harassment from debt collectors, understanding that Social Security and certain other retirement benefits are protected from garnishment, reporting unauthorized use of credit or debit cards, placing fraud alerts, protecting against utility shutoffs, and seeking restitution from abusers.

For further information, please call me at 403-2164 or send an email to