Jill's story: 75, alone and unprepared for declining health
*Identities have been changed to protect privacy
The scam was the final straw. That was when I not only lost a lot of money, but I felt I lost control of my life. My confidence was at low ebb after I was divorced from my husband and I felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of having to manage on my own, especially as I had always depended on my parents or husband to manage the money side of things.
My only experience with money management was the notebook I used to record the family and home expenses. My husband used to give me the weekly housekeeping money and I was quite diligent about writing down everything I spent to the last penny and making sure it all tallied. Working with cash was easy and I always knew where I was with my finances.
After our divorce six years ago, I moved to a lovely bungalow and I was persuaded by my children to have the internet installed. Despite my son, John, setting up an email for me and showing me how websites worked, I never got the hang of it and I much preferred to have any official paperwork sent through the post.
I’ve been a member of my local bowls club for years and I love it. We’re all retired, so my team mates are always very supportive. But it does keep me very busy and I don’t have much time to sort out my accounts at home. I have lots of paper files dotted around the spare room, but I know where everything is, or I did until I suffered a brain aneurysm rupture.
I had a terrible time and nearly died in hospital and then, everything suddenly became a lot harder and I tire easily, so I’m not surprised I began to lose track of all my bits and pieces. I knew money was tight, so I looked around for the best switching deals offered by energy and internet companies but I didn’t realise I would incur penalties because I broke my contracts too early.
Those people who tricked me into sending them money were so sympathetic. They said their elderly mother had suffered a stroke, so they really seemed to understand my feelings of vulnerability and isolation. I felt deeply ashamed that I had been conned, never mind losing all my cash savings, and I was worried that I would never be able to get on top of my affairs.
I admit I was reluctant to ask my family for help. They had emigrated several years ago and had busy lives and families of their own to worry about. They were marvellous though and John had always been good with money, so I trusted his judgment on what we should do to sort out the mess.
I thought that, finally, I was going to get control of my life, but I faced yet another uphill struggle. John said that he would need a power of attorney to access all my accounts and start organising my financial affairs. He would have to arrange time off work and buy an expensive flight to come over at short notice and meet with a lawyer.
I didn’t appreciate how my deteriorating health would impact on my somewhat chaotic finances or that I should start thinking about how I could better communicate and coordinate with my family living overseas. I wonder how much time, trouble and worry would have been saved if John could have just stepped in and used the internet to sort everything out. ♦