I was surprised to find a report from UCLA that concluded “Older people, more than younger adults, may fail to interpret an untrustworthy face as potentially dishonest, the study shows. The reason for this, the UCLA life scientists found, seems to be that a brain region called the anterior insula, which is linked to disgust and is important for discerning untrustworthy faces, is less active in older adults.”
The price of this misplaced trust was reported at an annual cost of $36.5 Billion by the National Council on Aging. I shared a few weeks back that Impostor Scams netted $328 in 2017. In working with older adults as a Daily Money Manager, I see how difficult managing your personal finances has become in today’s digital world. If you are concerned about a loved one, I hope you will offer to help if you are starting to notice the bills stacking up, or hear them lament over getting ready for their taxes. Not only is it harder to manage, but there are lots of people trying to get at our loved ones money.
I was initially surprised to read the results of the UCLA study. Since then, I’ve been watching and talking with my clients a little differently. I actually now feel a little panic when they tell me a plumber is coming, or they just signed a home improvement contract. I ask them to please reach out to me to talk through big ticket items before they sign an agreement if something comes up between appointments.
However, several have gone ahead and paid for the services and then we just work to validate that they got the service they paid for. In several cases, we have been able to cancel agreements that were predatory.
This gets even more problematic when early cognitive impairment or dementia are involved.
I’ve always considered a side benefit of getting older was getting wiser. I never guessed that due to natural aging, changes in our brains would make us more trusting. It feels counter-intuitive. However, it gives me renewed vigor to help as many older adults as I can. Witnessed.