Doctors need to address health-related issues, which put some seniors at risk of losing their life savings, some geriatricians say.

Losing the ability to manage your own money may happen not only to seniors with dementia but also older adults losing their hearing or vision or who are feeling lonely. 

All can become targets for fraudsters and even family members, says Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital.

"Why would I use mom and dad's money to pay for a nice retirement home when that means less of an inhertance and financial future for me," Sinha recalled.
 
In this week's issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, geriatrics experts coined a new phrase for age-related financial misspending, "Age-Associated Financial Vulnerability," or AAFV.

Sinha said the paper offers doctors a tool to remember all older adults could be financially vulnerable depending on their limitations.

Dr. Samir Sinha

Toronto geriatrician Dr. Samir Sinha has seen seniors losing the ability to manage their own money after dementia, hearing loss or feeling socially isolated. (CBC)

Some indicators of vulnerability include:

  • Slower completion of financial tasks.
  • Decline in everyday math skills.
  • Difficulty assessing risk in money-making opportunities.

While vital, money matters shouldn't be medicalized and are best left to financial planners, said Maureen Etkin, the executive director of Elder Abuse Ontario.

"I'm not sure that putting it in the doctor's arena is the best place for it. Doctors have so much on their plate as is. Adding this dimension is a huge area."

Sinha and Etkin agree assigning a power of attorney and writing a will is beneficial for people of all ages who worry about money matters now or in the future.
 

With files from CBC's Christine Birak