Beware Of The Grandparent Scam

Senior Lady - Sad NewsMany criminals and crooks prey on our senior citizens. Unfortunately, they see them as easy targets due to their kindness, memory issues and slower brain functions.

One of the latest scams is the Grandparent Scam and incredibly simple and devious because it uses one of older adults’ most reliable assets, their hearts. This has actually happened to the grandmother and mother-in-law of a friend of mine. The grandmother fell for it and went immediately to the bank and started to send the money at Walmart where they told her it was a scam. Thank goodness they didn’t let her wire the $2,600 to these criminals.

How The Grandparents Scam Works:

Scammers will place a call to an older person and when the mark picks up, they will say something along the lines of: “Hi Grandma, do you know who this is?” When the unsuspecting grandparent guesses the name of the grandchild the scammer most sounds like, the scammer has established a fake identity without having done a lick of background research.

Once “in,” the fake grandchild will usually ask for money to solve some unexpected financial problem (post bail, buy a plane ticket, overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.), to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram, which doesn’t always require identification to collect.

At the same time, the scam artist will beg the grandparent “please don’t tell my parents, they would kill me.” So they don’t tell anyone what they are doing and the con artist can get away it.

While the sums from such a scam are likely to be in the hundreds if not thousands, the very fact that no research on the senior is needed makes this a scam that can be perpetrated over and over at very little cost to the scammer but at a very high cost to our senior citizen community, who love their grandchildren and would do anything to help them.

This is just one of the many scams where our seniors are preyed upon. Click here to read about them and then be sure discuss this with your senior, so they don’t become a victim of these shady tricks.

5 Tips For Transitioning An Aging Loved One: Housing Options

senior citizens movingIf a move is in your Elder’s future there is much to consider. Since every Elder and their family bring their own story, it will be challenge to include each detail for consideration. Please use this blog entry and list as a beginning point for discussion and assistance. You have a journey ahead and it helps to have a place to start. This journey has components that include safety, medical, lifestyle, emotion, finances, and pragmatics. Seniors often view the move to an assisted living community as one of the biggest changes in their lifetime.

Many experience normal feelings of sadness, depression or anger. Some view the move in a more positive light and as a way to feel more secure that their care needs will be met and to unburden their advocates.  Assisted living caregivers receive special training to meet the needs of the elder population.  Families and advocates can work with staff and with seniors to help them adjust. There is often a busy social structure in place so residents can engage as much or as little as they desire. Activities address mental, physical, and social activities that are appropriate and matched to ability. Peer interaction and reminiscence can be very powerful: many seniors are surprised by how enjoyable and rewarding community living can be.


Please note I did not use the term senior living facility- would you want to move to a facility? Ask about state licensure- do not take another step if the facility is not licensed. There are both public and private resources that can assist families with finding the right fit for senior living. Individual resources can be found in through your state’s Department of Human Services website. Look for  http://www.type in your  Private geriatric and medical case managers, usually nurses (like ElderCompass) and social workers, can also be hired to assist with a more personalized approach.  Other services assist free of charge and receive their payment from the senior neighborhood where the client is placed in the form of a referral fee. Please see this link for an excellent and comprehensive check list of questions.


Prior to being accepted in an assisted living neighborhood, an assessment is performed. This is done to clarify that the resident’s needs for care and socialization can be safely met.  Usually a nurse will review medical history, perform a physical assessment and interview. Activities of daily living, mobility, eating/feeding, medication management, bathing, social needs, and memory care are evaluated to assure proper placement.

2. COST:

Most families are surprised at the high cost of living in assisted living neighborhoods. In the US, expect $1,000-$8,000/month charges. Fees vary based on the amount of support and care that is required.  Facilities include rent/lease/ or purchase, then base their additional fees on personal care, medication administration, medical visits, meal plans, laundry, transportation, or security deposit. Each facility has their own fee schedule equation, be sure to take this into account when comparing.  Also consider a roommate to decrease monthly cost; this may seem strange, but this arrangement can offer instant companionship and camaraderie, as well as another safety net. As an extra set of eyes is watching out for your aging loved one.


Assisted living communities are most-often private pay facilities; Medicare and private health insurances [Long term Care Insurance is a separate entity] do not cover the costs. There are ways to reduce out of pocket expenses, and even some financial assistance programs. Inquire about these with regards to financial assistance, and saving money: Veterans Aide and Assistance**, Shared Apartments, Family Involvement (like rides to medical appointments and medication administration), Long Term Insurance, if the senior has an existing policy (You can request an assessment if your senior now requires assisted  living), Low Income Apartment availability, Reverse Mortgages (ElderCompass staff included this topic to ensure  comprehensiveness, but we vary rarely find this the right solution and warn against elder fraud and whether this actually works in favor of families), and potentially Medicaid*.

*The individual state Medicaid requirements are extremely strict, but in some instances, may be instituted.

**It is advisable to obtain the initial consultation of a Veteran Accredited attorney, and or one versed in Medicaid to assess potential resources for care and housing.


Downsizing for a move to assisted living is a process- please see our earlier blog – 10 Ways…- for pointers and insights.  Keep a file of pertinent housing and financial documents and have it with you at all times during this period of advocacy. Have your senior pick several of their favorite pieces of furniture, pictures, and art that will best fit in their new space; these items can make them feel more at home more quickly, and it gives them things to talk about with their new neighbors. Draw a scaled picture of the room to ensure desired furniture can fit safely. Make arrangements for the sale or distribution of older furniture and try to avoid expensive storage facility fees. There are Certified Move Managers that assist with moving and more – stay tuned for a blog entry detailing such service.

In the meantime, see this site.  Change mailing address and send postcards to friends and family. If there is an empty house, be sure to arrange for lawn care and snow removal, clean out the house as time allows and throw out garbage a little at a time so the home looks lived-in. Turn off water in cold weather and drop heat to 55 degrees, notify neighbors and friends of vacant home, place lights with timers, and arrange for intermittent driveway traffic and mail checks.


Many senior communities offer respite packages and weekend trials before people move-in. Another way to test the water is to eat several meals at the community. Once moved in, ensure your senior knows who their main contact is for questions and concerns. Be sure you too have a contact that is available 24/7. Establish a visiting schedule with friends, family and religious organization members so seniors feel secure and still have familiarity in their life. Try to participate with activities with other residents to facilitate friendships  Know your senior’s laundry and bathing schedule and plan your visits at different times to ensure new processes are going smoothly.


As with any major transition there will be some stress. Most importantly, be present and make sure your senior knows you have helped to make the best decision for all parties involved to ensure safety and contentment.

7 Easy Steps To Help Your Elder

senior financial documentsAs an elder advocate and or caregiver, there are simple things you can do to make sure your elder receives timely and quality care. Being an advocate includes planning ahead and being prepared to make decisions on behalf of your elder. Consider obtaining legal advocacy documents called Power of Attorney for Health and a separate one for Finance, if you do not yet have them.

Visit us again next week as we discuss legal advocacy in more detail and important conversations to have with your elder that are crucial to maintaining their wishes.

7 Easy Steps To Help Your Elder:

1. Gather important documents.  

Prepare your own “face sheet” that includes: Complete full name, (and maiden name if applicable), date of birth, Social Security Number, home address, types of insurance [Medicare, Medicare Supplements, Long term Care, Life Insurance etc.] and all contract numbers. To protect identity, keep this information in a secure place.

2. Record.

All current and recent treating physician contact information, as well as hospitals and/or rehabilitation centers where care may have been received.

3. Make copies.

Driver’s license or state identification card, Medicare card, and any other supplemental insurance cards. Again, keep this information in a secure place.

4. Obtain and sign HIPPA (Health Information Privacy Protection Act) forms.

Sign these with your elder, from medical offices so you can communicate about health-related information.

5.  Gather contact and account information.

Banks, investment firms, and credit unions- remember to secure this information to maintain security.

6. Contact.

Insurance agents and inform them you are advocating for your elder.

7. Complete a medication list.

This should include all names, time, dose, indication of medication.

Being prepared can make elder care that much easier,  in times of crisis especially.

Join us next week as we continue the advocacy conversation. Plan ahead so any health situation can be managed and you can be available to provide support efficiently.

How To Pay For Elder Care

how to pay for elder careSo many families that I work with wonder how to pay for Elder Care. There are several different options for Elder Care or Senior Care:

  • Private Duty Homecare
  • Skilled Home Health Care
  • Independent Living
  • Assisted Living and Continuing Care Retirement Communities
  • Memory Care Facilities
  • Nursing Homes
  • Hospice Care

All forms of care accept private pay funding which means payment comes from sources other than Medicare or Medicaid. Private pay allows the recipients of care to choose the form and setting that they prefer. Private Pay can be funded by savings and investments, long term care insurance or annuities, social security or other retirement benefits, Veterans’ benefits, and through the conversion of a life insurance policy into a Life Care Benefit Plan (or Long Term Care Benefit Plan).

In fact, numerous states in 2013 introduced laws to encourage owners of life insurance policies to convert their policies to remain Private Pay instead of abandoning them to go onto Medicaid.

Another Way to Pay for Elder Care option is public sources such as:

  • Medicare
  • Medicaid.

Medicare will only cover the first 100 days of in-patient nursing home based skilled and rehabilitation services. After the 100 day period is over, expensive daily co-pays kick in or a patient would need to switch to Medicaid. To qualify for Medicaid, the patient would need to meet both medical necessity and financial eligibility requirements to qualify. A Medicaid recipient must be at poverty level financial levels and middle class Americans will need to “spend-down” their assets to get rid of things like their home(s), vehicle(s), and financial instruments such as life insurance policies to even qualify. This then makes them a ward of the state. Once a person has made themselves a ward of the state, the most typical setting to receive Medicaid funded care would be in a nursing home and the patient would live in a shared room not of their choosing. Most seniors do not want this type of care.

Medicaid was created to fund healthcare services for the poor. The vast majority of seniors looking to pay for Elder Care would prefer to not be on Medicaid and moved into a nursing home. If they are able to use private pay funds they are then able to remain at home longer and choose the form of care they want.

A care director, like those at ElderCompass can help guide you with financial options and save you money with options that work for your elder.

Costs of Dementia Care Sky Rocketing

What is dementiaDementia costs are rising as the baby boomers age. Long-term care costs now exceed cancer and heart disease combined!

The Statistics

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published significant data about just how much Dementia costs us. Not surprising, as we are now paying attention to the growing numbers of older adults and tracking treatment and disease cost  with more interest than ever.  According to this article on CNN’s website, long term care pricing will likely be double by the year 2040. Federal efforts to track and understand how to manage these costs have been increasing  and in 2011 President Obama  signed into law the National Alzheimer’s Project Act , which aims in part to track the costs of dementia for government and society.

What does that mean for us now?

1. If you are an aging person, or advocate for one, consider your current resources and schedule an appointment with an accountant and attorney: they can best advise you of financial expenditures and planning going forward.

2. If you are a Boomer, consider financial/insurance products that insure your dollars will go to best use: whether in an asset-based long-term care policy or financial accounts that have flexibility and guaranteed returns. Because we are living longer, it is imperative to consult a financial advisor to help plan for a comfortable future.

3. If you are an elder advocate, consider meeting with a skilled Care Director like ElderCompass to prioritize and align a plan that makes sense for your particular circumstances.

Don’t wait until there is a crisis! Planning ahead is imperative to get positive results and insure wellness and financial peace of mind as you experience the changes aging brings.