• October 7, 2019 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    Elder Care Management logo
    The past few months we have been talking about life transitions- when should you get more care in the home and when is a good time to move. This month’s topic, when should Hospice be brought in?

    Hospice is a service covered by Medicare, and most other insurance carriers, that provides end of life care for those with a terminal diagnosis that is likely to lead to their death in six months or less. The individual must have a referral from a physician to be eligible for hospice. For those who are unsure about hospice services, hospice agencies will often do a courtesy visit to discuss end of life and whether their loved one meets the hospice enrollment criteria. There are many hospice agencies to choose from- most major health systems have their own hospice agency in house, and others are run as for-profit or non-profit agencies.

    Hospice staff includes physicians, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, and bereavement counselors that are brought to a patient’s home, community, or clinical setting. The comprehensive approach to services brings comfort and support to patients and their loved ones, relieving much of the mystery that surrounds death and its attending complications. For most people, hospice services are brought in the last two weeks of life; a sad fact knowing that having hospice support earlier might have brought much-needed peace of mind to both the caregivers and patients.

    Hospice does demand conversations.

    Care Managers are supporters and facilitators of conversations.  We encourage all our clients to discuss critical topics dealing with health and finances with those they love and trust. End of life discussions can be fraught with emotions yet are some of the most rewarding conversations family members can have.

    How do you see your end days? If you were like my mom, you want to die peacefully in your sleep with clean clothes on and a smile on your face. Nothing maudlin, no embarrassing or undignified scenarios, just a calm, controlled ending. (I smile as I write the word “control” because death is the one thing that most of us will never control.)

    Here are some simple guidelines to consider when thinking about your end of life choices. First, what is most important to you? For some people who have strong faith beliefs, their wishes might include heroic measures taken to ensure that they are alive for as long as possible. For others, the focus might be more pain oriented, hoping to remain comfortable and pain-free without regard to how long they continue to live.

    A review of a POLST or Five Wishes is a good place to start to determine whether you want all life-sustaining measures or whether you want to be allowed to die with limited intervention or comfort measures only.

    Establishing who your Power of Attorney is and conveying your wishes to them is important, in addition to a conversation with your Primary Care Physician. Make an appointment with your doctor and have the doctor complete a POLST with you. Be sure to notify your health care provider of the name of your power of attorney accompanied with the appropriate documents.

    Finally, we encourage you to read and learn. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, The Art of Dying Well by Katy Butler and The Five Invitations by Frank Ostaseski, are wonderful books to help guide you in aging and dying well.

    At Elder Care Management of Northern California we partner with families, elders, community members, and employers to tackle the tough issues of elder care.  Please visit our website at www.ecmnca.com or call (916) 206-4420 to get more information about our services.

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  • September 4, 2019 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    Elder Care Management logo
    Welcome to part two of a three-part series discussing Transitions. Last month we talked about staying home safely and next month we will discuss when it is time to call in hospice. This month we will focus on how to decide when to make a move from your home.

    With Fall fast approaching and another change of seasons, transitions are always around us. One of the least embraced transitions in our work is when our clients and families are considering a move from the family home to an independent senior community or assisted living.
    Emotions run high when you are contemplating such a major life change and discussions become more difficult when you are forced to make the decision to move your loved one. We hope that we can offer you some supportive ideas that will make the transition from home to another setting more palatable.

    First, start by having a conversation. Talk to family and friends and tell them what your wishes are. It is great to tell everyone that you want to stay home but someday that might not be realistic or feasible. Give your family a gift and go tour communities where you think you might want to live. Give them your feedback on the tours and tell them where you could see yourself living should the day come when you have to move.

    Understand that the cost of living in independent and assisted living are primarily private pay, expenses paid out of family savings or income. There are a few other alternatives that may include long term care insurance, the Aid and Attendance Program for veterans and their spouses (a qualifying program that is duty and income-based), and a small state-funded program for low-income adults who are on Medi-Cal. You will find costs ranging from anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 per month based on what an individual’s care needs are for assisted living. Independent settings are generally less but will not have supportive services available should someone need hands-on care.
    Consider location. Do you or your loved one want to be near family? Is there a family member living in another state that is a more affordable option? Be sure to cast a wide net when looking at settings as it may give you more communities to choose from. While many of us love our home state of California, it is not always the most affordable place to live.

    Care needs will also play into choosing a community. For many families, an independent apartment with meals and housekeeping is all they need. But as we age and personal care needs increase, assisted living often becomes a necessity. Each community will typically have a base rate for a room or apartment. Where the unknown factor comes in is how they price the personal care. There are some settings that are all-inclusive with one set price while others charge per pill and task they do. As Care Managers, we always ask for a formal assessment by the community prior to notifying the family of price. Be aware that if you are making a sudden move out of the hospital, that you should ask to tour any community your loved one is sent to, ask for more than one setting to choose from and once you decide on a place, have the community come to the hospital to assess your loved one. You may feel pressure to move your loved one out of the hospital- slow the process down by asking for time to find the appropriate setting for your loved one to transition to. Be timely, know that your clock is ticking and you will need to be prompt in your decisions.

    So, when is the right time to move? Here are a few scenarios.

    You are finding that you or your loved one is unable to get around the house safely. Stairs and multi-level homes are no longer easy to navigate. Medications and food routines are neglected. Personal hygiene is left untended and increasing isolation are all good signs that a move would be indicated. If the primary caregiver is no longer able to care for themselves and are exhausted by the demands of care, then change becomes imminent. Caregivers often fail long before the ones they are caring for.

    To summarize: talk to family, come up with a budget, tour local communities. Remember our adage, “create the toolbox you will need for the future,” and don’t make decisions during a time of crisis if you can help it.

    At Elder Care Management of Northern California we partner with families, elders, community members, and employers to tackle the tough issues of elder care.  Please visit our website at www.ecmnca.com or call to get more information about our services.

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  • August 9, 2019 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    Elder Care Management logo

    By Ginger McMurchie, Elder Care Management of Northern California Owner & Care Manager

    In this edition of our newsletter, we would like to introduce the idea of transitions. For the next few months we will focus on three topics-

    When should a family bring in outside help to the home?

    When do you know it is time to move to assisted living?

    When should a person consider hospice?

    Our first topic is likely the easiest to navigate. The home where you or your loved one lives is getting too big for one person to handle. Tasks take longer to accomplish; they take more energy and sometimes things get left undone. Driving is complicated by poor vision, difficulty getting in and out of the car and demands too much brainpower- it is no longer the independent pleasure it used to be. The simple task of bathing now seems overwhelming and gets put off until another day and putting on clean clothes seems unnecessary or goes unnoticed. Your doctor, family, and sometimes friends are telling you that you need more help around the house. So, what are the options?

    If the house is all you need help with, that is a simple fix. A housekeeper once or twice a month can keep bathrooms clean, the kitchen scrubbed and can get the vacuuming and dusting taken care of. Tired of gardening? Hiring a gardener or young adult from the neighborhood to mow the lawn and rake the debris keeps the yard tidy. If you need assistance with personal care, then it may be time to consider a caregiver. As care managers, we always encourage people to use licensed home care agencies for help. A licensed agency will act as the employer, pay the payroll taxes and will screen the caregivers by doing background checks. These caregivers should come to you with ample training on personal care and with some coaching from you might be able to make your favorite mac and cheese. While it may sound simple, having a stranger in your home is not easy. It takes time and patience to establish a relationship with a caregiver and home care agency. If the caregiver does not feel like a good fit- ask for someone else!

    We want to acknowledge that all the above ideas come at a price. Caregivers across the state average anywhere from $26-33 per hour with the agency typically asking for a four-hour minimum. Housecleaners may cost an additional $100-200 per month. For those on a fixed income, applying for Medi-Cal, getting on IHSS or if you are a veteran or spouse of a veteran looking into the Veterans Aid and Attendance Program may be good ideas. We encourage you to start a conversation with loved ones about how things are going around the house. Ask your friends and family for recommendations on housecleaners and gardeners. Research and meet staff from local home care agencies. Keep everyone’s phone number handy because the day will come when we all need additional help!

    At Elder Care Management of Northern California we partner with families, elders, community members, and employers to tackle the tough issues of elder care.  Please visit our website at www.ecmnca.com or call to get more information about our services.

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  • October 8, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    Staying Safe in Extreme Temperatures
    Extreme temperatures are among the worst silent killers, as we often underestimate how dangerous they are. Even in areas that are notorious for extreme temperatures, people will still be unaware of the warning signs from their health that life-threatening damage is being done from the extreme heat or cold. Furthermore, many seniors are unaware of the specific safety precautions they especially need to take when in extremely high or low temperatures. We’ll discuss some pointers to keep in mind when preparing for drastic weather changes.

    Extreme Heat

    The heat causes fatal health problems for nearly 200 people in the United States every summer. Most of those 200 people are over the age of 50, as the aging body is not able to handle extreme heat as well as younger bodies. Here are some ways to stay safe when the summer is just too hot.

    • Air Conditioning– When a heat wave hits, you’ll want to stay inside with air conditioning on. Staying indoors will keep your body from overheating and suffering health ailments like heat stroke and dehydration. If you don’t have air conditioning at your home, then try going to the movies, the mall, or the community center.
    • Avoid the Sun– Direct sunlight during extreme heat, only compounds the harmful effects. The sun can wear out the body much faster, to a point of losing orientation and fainting. If you must be outside, try to stay in the shade, or do your activity in the evening or early morning, when the sun is not as draining.
    • Hydration– Your body needs plenty of water to properly function. Once the body is dehydrated for an extended period of time, then organ failure becomes imminent. It is very important to drink fluids so as not to fall victim to the sun. Do not drink caffeine or alcohol, as they will dry you out faster.
    • Wear Breathable Clothing– Your clothing can have a huge effect on your internal temperature. Wear clothing that will allow sweat to evaporate, which allows your body to keep cool. Loose, light colored clothing will go a long way in helping your body to withstand the effects. Wear a hat and sunglasses as well, to avoid sunburn and to protect your eyes.
    • Sunburn– As mentioned above, it can be very easy to get sunburn during extreme heat waves. Sunburn can exasperate skin cancer in the long term, and be very uncomfortable in the short term. Always wear a hat, preferably a wide brimmed hat, when outside. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes. Always put on sunscreen of at least SPF 30, preferably 50 for good protection against the sun. It is advisable to reapply the sunscreen every two hours that you are outside.
    • How to Cool Down– Take showers or baths that are cold or tepid, as the water will cool down the blood in your veins, which will in turn cool your entire body. Hand towels that are soaked in cold water or wrapped around ice packs and placed on areas where there is a lot of blood flow will also cool you down rapidly. Areas like the neck, wrists, and armpits are ideal.

    Extreme Cold

    The cold is just as taxing on the body as the extreme heat is. Seniors are much more susceptible to losing body heat in the cold compared to those who are younger. The aged body is also less aware of when it is getting too cold, meaning an older person may stay out in the cold longer than they’re actually safely able to do. Seniors can begin to suffer from hypothermia much sooner than younger people. Here are a few ways for seniors to stay safe in the extreme cold.

    • 68°F Minimum on Heater– Sometimes it’s tempting to turn the heater down to 60-65°F to save on utility costs, but this can be life threatening during extremely cold days. A heater lower than 68° will not properly heat the house, and as mentioned earlier, an older body does not signal the brain when it is too cold. A senior living alone could fall into fatal hypothermia, as they are not keeping their body warm enough to function properly.
    • Dress Warmly– Again, an older body will not warn you when it is too cold. If you don’t feel cold, you’ll still want to wear a sweater, long pants, and socks to keep warm. Keeping your body warm is of utmost importance to avoid hypothermia. Even when going to bed, be sure to be fully bundled.
    • Insulate the House– Make sure your windows are not drafty, and that they are shut tight and locked, curtains drawn. Install weather stripping if possible. A drafty house will sap out any heat from the heaters, raising utility bills and making it unsafe for you.
    • Stay Dry– If you go outside and get snow on you, be sure to change clothing as soon as possible as wet clothing saps you of your body heat.

    Be Prepared for Temperature Changes

    Aging makes regulating body temperature more challenging during hot and cold spells. Seasonal temperature changes and activities once taken for granted pose potential problems with declining reserves, chronic conditions, and medications. But with careful forethought, you can remain safe and healthy no matter the weather!

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  • September 28, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    How to Prepare an Emergency Disaster Kit
    Natural disasters are stressful for anyone, regardless of age. Unfortunately, if you’re a senior, they might present greater challenges for you. You may have less mobility, or poor health, making it a challenge for you to respond quickly. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to prepare yourself for possible emergencies.

    This guide will cover a handy checklist of items to have and bring with you in the event of an emergency, as well as some advice on further resources.

    First things first, you’ll want to be aware of what risks are more common in the area you live in. Some areas are prone to flooding, others to fires or snowstorms, for example. You’ll want to keep this in mind when considering what should go in your kit.

    Emergency Kit Checklist

    This is a basic overview of what every emergency kit should contain. Please visit Ready.gov to view the government’s comprehensive checklist, as well as how to maintain and store your kit.

    • Non-perishable foods (at least 3 days worth)
    • Can opener
    • Bottled water (if you have pets, pack generously)
    • Medication (a week’s worth)
    • Spare clothing and shoes
    • Pet food, if applicable
    • Spare keys to your home and car(s)
    • Glasses and spare contacts
    • Waterproof matches
    • Swiss army knife
    • First aid kit
    • Common toiletries (you can buy small travel kits at the grocery store for ease)
    • Emergency blankets (you can buy them in packs), as well as fabric blankets if desired
    • Cell phone charger
    • Spare hearing aid batteries, if applicable
    • Flashlight
    • Battery powered radio
    • Extra batteries
    • Moist towelettes and garbage bags
    • A backpack, tote, or other sturdy container for your kit

    Familiarize Yourself with Local Resources

    What happens when a disaster strikes in your area? Do you know where to go and who to ask for help if needed? It’s essential to familiarize yourself with local resources before the emergency takes place. This way, you won’t have to fumble around trying to find out what to do next or where to go.

    Most areas should have emergency shelter locations nearby. Identify those and write out a list of emergency contacts and addresses so that you have it all in one place. Keep this list safe inside your disaster kit. In addition to emergency shelter locations near you, you may want to also consider gathering contact information for your local:

    • Fire and police department
    • Hospitals
    • Water and power suppliers
    • Poison control

    Get Your Plan in Place

    The most pivotal part to surviving an emergency is having a solid plan. Write one that’s easy to follow and keep it somewhere accessible. When creating a plan, you may want to consider including information on:

    • A communication plan with your family and caregivers so that you won’t lose touch with the ones you love in any emergency.
    • Safe and easy escape routes in case of fire or flood. It’s best to have more than one route option figured out.
    • What to do next after escaping — where to go and who to call for help if needed.
    • Where to keep your emergency kit so that you can grab it quickly when needed

    Conclusion

    Disasters are usually not avoidable or predictable. With that said, it’s important to be fully prepared ahead of time. This is true for all of us, but senior citizens will especially benefit from taking matters into their own hands earlier on as they may not have the ability to escape an emergency as quickly. Remember that when an emergency strikes, time is of essence!

    Additional Resources

    Red Cross – Find out more on why it’s so important to have a personal support network when you’re a senior preparing for any emergency.

    FEMA – Review additional tips for emergency preparedness. These pointers are great for both family and caregivers of seniors to keep in mind too.

    Insurance Information Institute – Learn more about the importance of home insurance and the different options available to seniors.

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  • August 31, 2018 /  Miscelleaneous

    Disaster Preparedness for Seniors

    Every adult should be aware of the potential disasters where they live and also have plans in place to deal with you, but senior citizens in particular can be more vulnerable and may need more help planning. The steps below should provide a simple way of being prepared for any emergency.

    1 – Assess the common risks near your home

    It saves time when you are aware of the likely disasters in your area so you can prepare for them, as opposed to situations that are incredibly rare.

    Think about what common risks are in your city or state:

    • Hurricanes
    • Tornadoes
    • Earthquakes
    • Flooding
    • Wildfires

    Most of us need to prepare for some of these, but almost no one has to worry about all of them. All the preparation discussed below should be with the specific threats in mind.

    2 – Know your local resources

    Depending on the type of disaster, there may be a designated evacuation center or community center that will be set up for relief. It’s also important to know where local hospitals and other critical services are located, especially for those new to an area.

    Keep a list of contact information for reference:

    • Local Emergency Management Office
    • County Law Enforcement
    • County Public Safety Fire/Rescue
    • State, County and City/Town Government
    • Local Hospitals
    • Local Utilities
    • Local American Red Cross
    • Local TV Stations
    • Local Radio Stations
    • Your Property Insurance Agent
    • Medical Transportation Companies

    For more tips and further information on local risks and relief, the FEMA website at Ready.gov is a great resource.

    3 – Prepare an emergency plan for the relevant potential disasters

    You, and your family members, should come up with an emergency plan in advance. You may not be with your family when an emergency occurs, so they must be aware of how to contact you if necessary.

    In some cases, you may need to shelter yourself within your own home. If the air outside is contaminated, it may be necessary to remain indoors. It is a good idea to pre-cut plastic sheeting, in case the doors, windows, and vents need to be covered.

    The nearest evacuation/community centers should be located in advance. You should consider using these places as drop-off or meeting locations with friends and family if such an event occurs.

    In case you need to leave town, you should plan ahead on methods of transportation you can take. Drivers should store an extra canister of gas, and should identify necessary evacuation routes on a map. Everyone should have passports and/or state identification in easy access in case they need to travel far.

    4 – Establish a Personal Support Network

    Even if you are self-sufficient, it is still a good idea for you to contact others and form a personal support network. This network could include family, friends, doctors, personal attendants, neighbors, co-workers or anyone they may feel comfortable with. It should include local members, as well as some out-of-town. These people should exchange phone numbers, email addresses and street addresses between others in the network.

    You should show members of your networks where you store emergency supplies. Everyone should exchange copies of important emergency documents, emergency health contacts, and information and any evacuation plans.

    People who are in each other’s support networks should let one another know when they leave town. If an event occurs where you must leave for an evacuation/community center, you should be sure to contact someone from your personal support network so that others would not try to find you at home.

    If you use medical equipment such as a wheelchair, you should inform people of how to operate it. If you take any medications that require a special process, you must let others know.

    5 – Make plans for pets as well

    If you have a pet, it’s important to consider their needs when developing an evacuation plan or emergency routine. Start by making sure each pet has an up-to-date ID tag.

    You should assume that if you are being evacuated that your pet would be coming with you. If you live in an area that can flood, it would be wise to consider where you might ride the storm out, whether it’s a family member’s place in another area, or a pet-friendly hotel in a safer locale.

    Read more about disaster preparation for pets.

    6 – Social Security & Other Payments

    If you receive Social Security, other regular payments or withdrawals from retirement accounts, consider having it paid electronically. This can help to ensure that payments continue to provide a steady income should you not be able to return home to receive mailed payments.

    Social Security direct deposits can be initiated by calling 1-800-333-1795, or by visiting GoDirect.org.

    Resources for further reading

    While disasters can be a frightening thought, being prepared will go a long way in easing your fears. In our next article we will discuss how to prepare an emergency kit that will sustain you, should the need arise.

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  • July 27, 2018 /  Basics, Resources

    How to Avoid Scams Targeting Seniors Part Two
    This is a continuation in a series focusing on scams and crimes targeting older adults and the elderly. Did you read the last article? If not, check it out here! How to Avoid Scams Targeting Seniors: Part 1. Today we’ll be sharing even more resources to help you stay protected and knowledgeable.

    Stealing from the Grieving

    What to look out for: Widows and widowers are told that their spouse had outstanding debts that must be settled. Sometimes, the scammer may appear at the victim’s doorstep with a pay-on-delivery package that was supposedly ordered by the deceased. The con artists find widowed spouses by browsing public obituary listings or snooping at funeral homes. Sometimes the funeral home is the perpetrator and tacks on additional fees or pushes unnecessary items, such as an expensive casket for a cremation.

    Risks: The bereaved can be scammed out of money or upsold on funeral expenses.

    Helpful resourcesAARP offers tips about how to avoid scams after the death of a loved one.

    Phony Sweethearts

    What to look out for: Sometimes referred to as the “sweetheart” scam, fraudsters target widowers using online dating sites in an attempt to form a trusting relationship and then take advantage. The con artists may make up a heartbreaking story and ask for financial assistance, request that the target be a cosignatory for a loan, or even convince the target to sign over power of attorney, allowing the perpetrator to take out a home equity loan.

    Risks: Victims face a loss of funds and risk being saddled with unwanted debts. Identity theft is also possible.

    Helpful resourcesAARP offers an in-depth look at online dating scams and how to avoid becoming a victim.

    Reverse Mortgage Scams

    What to look out for: Many people’s life savings are tied to the equity in their homes, a prime target for thieves. Reverse mortgages are a popular way for seniors to take cash out of their homes without having to move. Scams related to this sometimes-useful tool come in many forms, from fees hidden in the fine print to failure to disclose the consequences of unexpected default.

    Risks: Victims can lose their homes, or be subject to excessive fees.

    Helpful resources: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a consumer advisory about the dangers of reverse mortgages.

    Unneeded Repairs

    What to look out for: In this scenario, scammers case a neighborhood looking for elderly residents and then knock on the door posing as handymen. They point out a few things that they insist need repair. Payment may be demanded up front, and if the work is done at all, it’s often unlicensed and sloppy.

    Risks: Homeowners stand to lose the upfront payment and face damage to their property due to shoddy workmanship.

    Helpful resources: The FTC offers tips to help people, especially seniors, avoid home-improvement scams.

    Online Phishing

    What to look out for: Online scams don’t necessarily target seniors, but people less familiar with technology are more susceptible. Phishing, the attempt to steal sensitive information online by posing as someone else, is a popular trick. Emails from supposedly official organizations, including governments and large businesses, ask recipients to change their passwords, update account information, or pay an outstanding debt. Sometimes, simply clicking on a link is enough to infect a computer with malicious software that can steal personal information.

    Risks: The scammers can come away with access to the victim’s accounts and identity, along with a quick payday.

    Helpful resources: The FTC offers advice on how to avoid phishing scams.

    Fraud-Prevention Scam

    What to look out for: Scammers sometimes claim to be calling from a bank’s fraud-prevention department and request information like a credit card security code or expiration date. Even if the caller ID looks like it’s from a bank, don’t be fooled. Never share personal or financial data.

    Risks: Victims face the immediate loss of money from their accounts, with the potential for even costlier identity theft.

    Helpful resourcesAARP offers advice about avoiding fraud-prevention scams.

    Tech Support Scam

    What to look out for: Scammers often pose as representatives from software or computer companies and announce they’ve identified viruses or other problems with a person’s computer. They then try to sell the victim bogus software, offer to “run a scan,” or ask for permission to access the computer.

    Risks: Victims face potential identity theft and harm to their computer.

    Helpful resources: The FTC maintains a page dedicated specifically to tech support scams.

    If you suspect that you’ve been the victim of a scam:

    Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it with someone you trust. You are not alone, and there are people who can help. Doing nothing will only make it worse. Keep handy the phone numbers and resources you can turn to, including the local police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services. To obtain the contact information for Adult Protective Services in your area, call the Eldercare Locator, a government sponsored national resource line, at: 1-800-677-1116, or visit their website at: https://eldercare.acl.gov.

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  • July 18, 2018 /  Basics, Resources

    How to Avoid Scams Targeting Seniors Part One
    We’ve discussed scams, fraud, and crimes against older adults and the elderly in the past, but today we’re going to share valuable resources that will help you either be more prepared, or give you the next step if you do fall victim to it. Seniors are commonly targeted because they tend to own their homes and have strong credit and ample savings. They’re also less likely to report fraud and tend to be less familiar with technology. Consequently, they are a favorite mark for fraudsters.

    Seniors lose more money by far to scams than any other demographic, with the median loss totaling $390, the Better Business Bureau found. This year may see new scams introduced or old scams revised, but one thing is certain: Dishonest people are working hard to separate older Americans from their money. Here’s what to look out for, and links to helpful resources on the subjects.

    Selling Anxiety

    What to look out for: Scams often start with unsolicited phone calls offering products aimed at easing a person’s fears. Calls like these were at the heart of a case where a company contacted seniors (even those listed on the National Do Not Call Registry) to hawk medical-alert pendants. The company shipped products without receiving an order and then threatened legal action or verbally abused seniors who didn’t pay.

    Risks: Victims lose the cost of the product and could be exposed to identity theft.

    Helpful resources: The Federal Trade Commission takes complaints about shady companies.

    Fake Prizes and Sweepstakes

    What to look out for: Another scam that often starts with an email or phone call, this one relies on a sense of hope rather than fear. Victims are told they’ve won a lottery or other large prize, but first they must transfer money to cover the accompanying taxes and fees.

    Risks: Victims face the loss of those funds, and identity theft is also a risk.

    Helpful resources: The FTC maintains a web page specifically about prize scams.

    Health Insurance Fraud

    What to look out for: Mobile “health-care labs” are sometimes parked at retirement homes, malls, or health clubs, and fake or unnecessary tests are administered on “patients” whose identifying information is then used to bill insurance companies and Medicare. Similar rackets involving unneeded medical equipment also target seniors.

    Risks: Often directed at the elderly by perpetrators who leverage the term “Medicare,” this scam seeks personal information and could expose seniors to identity theft.

    Helpful resources: The government maintains a dedicated web page on Medicare fraud.

    The Grandchild Hook

    What to look out for: In the “grandparent scam,” crooks call seniors claiming to be a grandchild who has run into financial or legal difficulties and is in jail. The scammer begs the targeted senior not to tell the grandchild’s parents and to wire money to a bail bondsman.

    Risks: Victims forfeit not just the money but critical personal and financial data.

    Helpful resourcesAARP offers tips to help seniors beat this scam.

    Fake Products

    What to look out for: Some scammers sell fake products that promise youthful vibrancy, or breakthrough treatments that have no side effects. These items may be harmless sugar pills that hurt only the victim’s wallet, but others, such as fake Botox, can cause temporary paralysis or other physical harm.

    Risks: People lose money on fake products, but this kind of scam, as well as those selling cheap counterfeit prescription drugs, could also lead to serious illness or injury.

    Helpful resources: The Food and Drug Administration maintains a web page dedicated to medication health fraud.

    “Too Good to Be True” Investments

    What to look out for: Pyramid, Ponzi, or advance-fee schemes, as well as the now infamous “419” fraud, all fall into this category. In the 419 scam, a foreign national (often a “Nigerian prince”) requests money and finagles access to personal and financial data with the lure of sharing his immense wealth. Advance-fee schemes typically involve the sale of a product or service or arranging a so-called profitable venture in exchange for a finder’s fee.

    Risks: Once the fee is paid, the scammer disappears. Identity theft is also a risk.

    Helpful resources: AARP’s ElderWatch offers advice on recognizing and reporting fraud.

    If you suspect you’ve been the victim of a scam there are local resources you can turn to, including the police, your bank (if money has been taken from your accounts), and Adult Protective Services. There’s also helpful information available at StopFraud.gov.

    Check out the second part in this series here!

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  • June 24, 2018 /  Basics, Miscelleaneous

    Crime Prevention Tips For Seniors

    Crime prevention is vital for seniors and the elderly as they are an age group commonly targeted by unscrupulous individuals. There is plenty that you can do to learn to protect yourself. Follow these simple tips, and recruit backup as needed from your friends and family, and you can take a proactive approach in your own life!

    General Personal Safety

    1. Keep your money safe by not carrying large quantities of cash when you go out.
    2. When possible, travel or shop with a friend. You are less likely to be intimidated or approached if you are with someone.
    3. Avoid giving money to panhandlers.
    4. If you feel threatened, go to the closest business or public space.
    5. If you decide to give money to the panhandler or feel threatened, do not open your purse or wallet. This showcases how much cash or other valuables you are carrying. This could encourage a panhandler to become more aggressive or try to take your property.
    6. Carry a cell phone for emergency purposes. Emergencies can happen at any time. Pay-as-you-go phones can be purchased for very little, and could save a life.

    In the Home (Including in Senior Communities)

    1. Lock your door when you leave your residence and when you arrive home – always use the dead bolt.
    2. Don’t allow someone that you don’t know or immediately recognize into your building. Ask the person who they are, why they need into your building, and where they need to go.
    3. If someone tries to follow you into your building, and is acting suspiciously, use another entrance or go back to your vehicle.
    4. Use the peephole to see who is knocking. If you don’t recognize the person, don’t open the door.

    Credit and Debit Card Safety

    1. Protect your bank and credit card PIN numbers. Do not share your PIN. No one should have access to this information, unless you have designated a trusted family member as a helper.
    2. Never provide personal information over the internet or the phone.
    3. If you shop online, ensure there are good security protocols in place. Review your credit card statements for information security. Only shop on reputable websites.
    4. Immediately advise your bank if you suspect fraud. They can help you determine what to do and what your next step may be.
    5. Change your bank and credit card PIN numbers regularly.

    Identity Theft

    1. Never provide personal information over the phone to someone you don’t know or completely trust.
    2. If a caller is asking for your personal information (social security number, date of birth, banking information, etc.) – hang up the phone. You can immediately end the call. It is not rude if you are protecting your personal information.
    3. Never provide personal information over the Internet (email, social media, websites).
    4. Properly shred anything with personal information on it.
    5. Do not hesitate to question the caller. Ask why they are calling, who they work for, or ask to speak to their supervisor. Fraud artists generally cannot answer these questions and it can identify those who have nefarious intentions.

    Scams

    Scams have many forms. Generally, the scam artist is attempting to get your personal information or money. Scam artists may have some information about you (your middle name or date of birth) but will not know much else. If you are suspicious, challenge the scam artist to identify themselves and give more details.

    1. If someone comes to your door soliciting money or posing as a company employee, ask to see their identification. If they can’t produce it, close and lock your door – call the police.
    2. If a caller poses as a representative of a bank, credit card company, or the IRS, you can hang up and call them directly (using the number you find in the phone book or online – not one given to you by the caller) and check with them. None of these entities EVER request personal information over the phone. The credit card company or bank may call and ask if you authorized a transaction. If you didn’t, they will close the card and reissue a card to the address on file. But never give them your address as they are supposed to already have it. They may say that this is for security purposes but you should always state that you will call them (again, not using a number they supply but one you find in a phone book or online).
    3. Advise your credit card company or bank if someone calls. Your credit card / bank card information may have already been stolen.
    4. If you are asked by someone you don’t know to send money to a family member, or close friend, it is likely a scam. Ask the caller to provide detailed information that only you and your family members know. Ask the caller about a family member that doesn’t exist. You will quickly be able to identify their legitimacy.

    While crime can create special concerns for seniors, you can learn how to protect yourself, and make it tough for criminals to work in your neighborhood!

    Be sure to stay tuned for the second part in this series, which will go into further details on the various ways seniors can prevent crime in their lives, and how to handle it if it does happen.

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  • June 5, 2018 /  Basics

    According to the National Institute of Health, eating a well-planned and well-balanced mix of foods daily has numerous benefits for seniors. A healthy senior diet can potentially reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and bone loss. Not only that, but proper nutrition also helps reduce high blood pressure and can lower cholesterol. Another benefit is that it will build up your body’s ability to manage some of the chronic conditions or illnesses you may already have.

    Eating a healthy diet also provides increased mental capacity and higher energy levels, helping you feel better overall and live longer and stronger. But you might already be used to a certain type of diet and find change difficult. With these tips, you can get started and head in the right direction.

    All diet or exercise changes should first be discussed with your doctor.

    How to Plan a Nutritious Diet for Healthy Aging

    As we age, we may experience changes in our appetites or taste buds. Our metabolism begins to slow as does our activity levels, which means the body needs fewer calories. Some seniors may begin to skip meals, which can lead to a variety of problems that jeopardize their health. An improper diet will cause undesired weight loss and a weaker immune system, making aging adults more susceptible to illnesses like the flu and the common cold.

    It’s important to know how you can stimulate your appetite for proper senior nutrition. Promote healthy eating habits by:

    • Setting a proper eating schedule. Our bodies thrive on routine, and when we stray from our typical schedules the appetite can be affected.
    • Don’t increase the portion size; increase the amount of nutrients you’re eating. For example, adding peanut butter to your toast instead of butter or adding cheese to your scrambled eggs.
    • Use more herbs, sauces or marinades to enhance the flavor of your foods and address decreased taste sensitivity.
    • Eat socially! Go to lunch or dinner with some friends. Socializing with others during a meal can help improve your food intake.

    Conversely, there are principles to follow if you need to lose weight. Control your weight by:

    • Focusing on fruit and vegetables as a basis for your daily diet, as this is where the majority of your nutrients are going to come from.
    • Making sure you have plenty of protein. This protein can come from lean meats, legumes, beans, or even from some quality protein bars. Protein is essential for muscle mass, which decreases with age.
    • Carefully considering your portion sizes. Oftentimes you’ll be greatly surprised at the difference between a healthy portion versus what you initially want to put on your plate!
    • While diet is extremely important, you’ll get even better results if paired with exercise. Check out our articles on that subject!

    Eating Right for Proper Senior Nutrition

    Now is the time to implement those changes in your diet that will improve your overall health! In addition to the previously discussed foods, which are rich in vitamins and nutrients, include healthy carbs from grains and to provide a boost of energy.

    Another way to promote proper nutrition includes eating healthy snacks. Instead of reaching for that bag of chips or package of cookies, snack on chopped veggies, trail mix, whole-grain crackers, or dried fruit. Prepare small containers or bags of snacks so they’re just as convenient to grab as that bag of chips.

    Also, did you know you should eat your biggest meals earlier in the day? It’s true! This can be a difficult rule to follow, as many people tend to skip breakfast and eat a lighter lunch, and then enjoy a large, calorie-laden dinner. However, eating a big, healthy breakfast gives you the fuel you need for the day, while eating a smaller dinner makes sense considering your body will soon be “powering down” for nighttime.

    Don’t forget to treat yourself! Save around a reasonable amount of calories per day to satisfy your sweet tooth with some antioxidant-rich dark chocolate or pretzels for your salt cravings. Just watch your portion sizes and keep the calories in check. Be sure to consider whether you have any ailments requiring you to monitor sweets, such as diabetes.

    All potential diet changes should be discussed with your doctor, as they can customize a diet and fitness plan tailored to your needs.

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