Senior citizens! The average credit card debt for adults over retirement age is $10,000 – an 89% jump in the past decade. The number of senior citizens applying for bankruptcy has tripled. So, what are seniors spending the money on? According to the financial website WalletPop.com, half of the credit card debt is from medication, medical care, dental work, eyeglasses, insurance co-pays, and deductibles. Senior citizens are also spending big bucks on shopping sprees and frequent visits to local casinos. The fact is, a lot of businesses target the elderly because they have money and a lot of time on their hands, which makes them the ultimate consumer.

However, the spending can easily get out of hand. One elderly shopaholic mentioned in the article bought so much stuff, it killed her. She used shopping as a way to escape from her neighborhood, where rowdy kids threw stones at her windows and broke patio furniture. When she fell ill, it took worried neighbors and paramedics two days before they found her body beneath a giant pile of clothing, because her house was packed from floor to ceiling with purchases, with just a two-foot-wide passageway between the stacks.

Older adults are also prime targets for fraud. A lot of them are struggling with health-related problems. So, they’re more likely to fall for rip-off scams that promise to cure things like cancer and arthritis. So, how can you help protect your loved ones from fraud and monster credit card debt?

  • First, look for signs of fraud, like tons of junk mail and frequent calls from strangers. Once they fall for one scam, other scammers see them as fair game.  
  • Other red flags include: Not paying their bills, not allowing visitors, seeming depressed, being argumentative, or spending a lot of time in casinos. All of which can be signs of overspending.

If you’d like to go further, check out DebtorsAnonymous.org.