• January 30, 2017 /  Miscelleaneous

    Today my guest is Rachelle Wells. She does a lot of the research for my website and keeps my posts up-to-date.

    The title for today’s entry is: No, You Can’t Have My Money! or 7 Tips to Protect Yourself From Financial Scams:

    7 Tips to Protect Yourself From Financial Scams

    Millions of older adults fall prey to financial scams every year. Use these tips to protect yourself – with knowledge you can stay safe!

    1. Be aware that you are at risk from strangers — and from those closest to you.

    More than 90 percent of all reported elder abuse is committed by the older person’s family members, most often their adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others.

    Common tactics include depleting a joint checking account, promising but not delivering care in exchange for money or property, outright theft and other forms of abuse, including physical abuse, threats, intimidation and neglect of basic care needs.

    Everyone is at risk of financial abuse, even people without high incomes or assets. Understand common scams, so you can spot one before it’s too late.

    1. Always tell solicitors: “I never buy from (or give to) anyone who calls or visits me unannounced. Send me something in writing.”

    Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company and always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity.

    Neighborhood children you know who are selling Girl Scout cookies or school fundraising items may be an exception, but a good rule of thumb is to never donate if it requires you to write your credit card information on any forms.

    It’s also good practice to obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address and business license number before you transact business.

    And always take your time in making a decision.

    1. Shred all receipts with your credit card number.

    Identity theft is a huge business. To protect yourself, invest in — and use — a paper shredder.

    Monitor your bank and credit card statements and never give out personal information over the phone to someone who initiates the contact with you.

    1. Sign up for the “Do Not Call” list and take yourself off multiple mailing lists.

    Visit www.donotcall.gov or call the Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222 to stop telemarketers from contacting you.

    Be careful with your mail. Do not let incoming mail sit in your mailbox for a long time. When sending out sensitive mail, consider dropping it off at a secure collection box or directly at the post office.

    To get more tips on protecting yourself from fraud, visit www.onguardonline.gov, which has interactive games to help you be a smarter consumer on issues of related to spyware, lottery scams and other swindles.

    1. Use direct deposit for benefit checks to prevent checks from being stolen from the mailbox.

    Using direct deposit ensures that checks go right into your accounts and are protected. Clever scammers or even scrupulous loved ones have been known to steal benefits checks right out of mailboxes or from seniors’ homes if they are laying around.

    1. Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.

    Misuse of Medicare dollars is one of the largest scams involving seniors. Common schemes include billing for services never delivered and selling unneeded devices or services to beneficiaries.

    Protect your Medicare number as you do your credit card, banking and Social Security numbers, and do not allow anyone else to use it. Be wary of salespeople trying to sell you something they claim will be paid for by Medicare.

    Review your Medicare statements to be sure you have in fact received the services billed, and report suspicious activities to 1-800-MEDICARE.

    1. Be skeptical of all unsolicited offers and do thorough research.

    Be an informed consumer. Take the time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who may offer some perspective to help you make difficult decisions.

    Also, carefully read all contracts and purchasing agreements before signing and make certain that all of your requirements have been put in writing. Understand all contract cancellation and refund terms.

    As a general rule governing all of your interactions as a consumer, do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts or committing money. These decisions are yours and yours alone.

    Steps to Take if You’re a Victim

    If you think you’ve been scammed, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it — waiting could only make it worse. Immediately:

    • Call your bank and/or credit card company.
    • Cancel any debit or credit cards linked to the stolen account.
    • Reset your personal identification number(s).

    Also, contact legal services and Adult Protective Services if warranted. You do have the ability to protect yourself from financial scams!

    Rachelle Wells

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  • January 9, 2017 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    What Can Seniors Do to Prevent Falls?
    What’s the first you think of after you’ve had a fall? Most people would simply assume that they’re having some problems with eyesight or balance, hence impairing their ability to coordinate movement. Some also assume that they’ve had nothing more than a moment of clumsiness. These are not impossible conclusions. They do make perfect sense, but it is important to know that there can be other underlying reasons for the fall.

    Dr. Farrin Manian is a clinician educator and the principal investigator of a Massachusetts General Hospital study regarding infections and falls in the elderly.

    The study involved 161 patients who were treated in the Massachusetts General Hospital emergency room for a fall. All 161 of these patients were later also diagnosed with an underlying infection. Of these, 44.1 percent had a urinary tract infection, 39.8 percent had a bloodstream infection, 23 percent had a respiratory infection and 5.6 percent had an infection of the heart valve.

    Initially, experts did not suspect an underlying infection in more than 40 percent of the patients. This may be due to the fact that many of these patients only had one, or even none, of common signs of an infection (such as a rapid heart rate, an abnormal white blood cell count, and fever). As such, it is apparent that it is highly likely for the underlying infection to be missed if you don’t consider all the factors that led up to your fall.

    Now you may be wondering how exactly an infection could lead to a fall. There may not seem like there is an obvious link between the two, but the explanation is rather simple! According to researchers involved in the Massachusetts General Hospital study, infections can lower blood pressure. This will result in feelings of lightheadedness and dizziness, which then increase the person’s risk of falling. This effect is worsened in elderly persons because illnesses can also increase confusion in older people, especially in the cases of those who are also suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

    According to Dr. Manian, he was inspired to conduct the study because he had realized, over the years, that some of the more serious infections he had treated were in people who had come to the hospital because they had had a fall.

    According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2.5 million elderly persons end up in American emergency rooms each year as a result of falls. Of these 2.5 million, less than a third require hospitalization consequentially. The death rate of these falls has also increased between the years 2004 and 2013, from 41 deaths per year for every 100, 000 people to 57 deaths every year for the same number of people.

    With such a large number of cases of elderly falls every year, it is important to be informed that there could be a huge range of causes behind the falling – it might not be a bout of clumsiness or failing eyesight.

    Of course, it is important to maintain your regular health checkups to ensure that no infections or other health problems go unnoticed. However, if you have already had a fall, it is essential that you don’t jump straight to conclusions and assume that it was due to clumsiness, eyesight problems, confusion, or other reasons. It is important that you consider all possibilities, and get a full health checkup conducted if possible, so as to detect any underlying health problems.

    By staying aware of the health of your complete body and mind, you can control your risk for serious falls!

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