Saturday, August 26, 2006

Phones for the Elderly

Another idea I wouldn't mind working on is a special phone service for the elderly. It would screen their calls to keep out scammers or anyone they didn't want to hear from (except for those who have power of attorney!).

I hate it when I hear about old folks getting pressured into giving money to jerks who don't want to do something useful. I almost think that it would be a good thing if the government required everybody dealing with the elderly to be licensed.

If once you get to a certain age, you can't write checks to people who are not licensed or not relatives, that would cut out a lot of this fraud. For those who don't like that, a simple process to go outside of the licensed wold be available. It would be a burden, but on the more capable, not the least capable, who now get fleeced all too often.

It could work as simply as sending you a post card on your 65th, 70th and 75th birthdays. Do nothing to get protected or check the box to go unprotected. Banks would simply check their list of family and the licensed before cashing checks.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were an elderly person I would be offended by a law forcing me to ask permission from the government to write checks.

I like the phone idea. The mandatory part of the proposal is unacceptable. We're too much inclined to say "they're ought to be a law" when people do something ill-advised, and the regulation proposed would bring on another swamp of bureaucracy and lawsuits. We oughtn't make actions illegal because they might lead to a crime. And fraud is already illegal.

In addition to a phone that can accept only certain phone numbers there are myriad ways that the elderly and their guardians can protect against invasiveness. Let's look for voluntary means of dealing with such problems instead of adding more pounds to Leviathan and making it harder for everyone to do normal business. Which also kind of sounds invasive.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Al Brown said...

If you find the idea offensive, you can opt out easily as I proposed. If the hassle of doing that is too much for an older person, determining whether someone is trustworthy enough to do business with is probably already too much for that individual.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Al Brown said...

Yes, I too don't like the idea of increasing government control. A private solution is better than limiting what people can do just because they are aging.

So I think one way to approach this is for an organization like AARP to offer bank accounts and financial instruments that have these kinds of controls. And maybe AARP would already like to do that but are prevented from doing so by government regulation.

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a social worker, I would have to recommend rethinking this idea... it goes against respecting an individual's right to self-determination. Also, it reeks of paternalism, which can be pretty damaging to a person's capacity to mainting independence, even when it is as well intentioned as your idea. I am not a libertarian, as you well know, but I still balk at the idea of "tricking" someone into any protective policy that is based on the assumption that because of their age they are now incompetent. I think it is up to family members and friends of vulnerable elderly to encourage them to seek assistance if we see them being victimized or injured through abuse or self-neglect. It is tricky territory to say that we should automatically deny them certain freedoms at a certain age, even if they can get around it. That just introduces one more hassle for them, and they have enough to deal with already in facing a fragmented health care system, long term care systems, ageist social and political institutions, etc.

9:50 AM  

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