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.

4 Easy Ways To Protect Your Senior When Severe Weather Strikes

Weather Corkboard Word ConceptIt is Summer! A time of fun and sun. However, this is also the season for severe weather and storms can strike at any time. Storms can be extremely unnerving to seniors and the elderly. If you provide senior or elder home care, being prepared can make an unexpected storm or weather complication much easier to handle. Increasing safety for yourself and your elder at home during severe thunderstorms, even severe winds, tornadoes, and hurricanes can make outings and time at home more comfortable for you both. To avoid serious repercussions and injuries from unexpected weather conditions, follow some simple safety tips as outlined below.

What Is The Difference Between WATCH & WARNING?

Weather forecasts and early warning systems have saved thousands of lives and merit our attention. Technology today is very sophisticated and forecasters can now predict many of the severe weather patterns that can cause serious injuries.

  • A Severe Weather Watch means that conditions are ideal for a certain weather condition or event to arise.
  • A Severe Weather Warning means that something like a tornado or severe thunderstorm (depending on the warning) has actually occurred been identified.

Many smart phones now are equipped to send out alerts for severe weather. Be sure to set those up in your notifications under settings on your phone. Also, please follow local recommendations regarding hurricane warnings as we are entering hurricane season.  Be sure to have a several-day supply of those vital supplies (food, water and medication) for yourself and your seniors and remember your pets too.

Tips To Protect Yourself & Your Senior:

  1. Identify your safe place to take cover. Having cover is essential during tornado or thunderstorm, or even hurricane (again-follow local recommendations that may include evacuation) Go to the basement or a room in the center of your home without windows. If there is a tornado that has touched down and there is not time to get to proper shelter, under a doorframe, or in a cast iron bathtub. Current bathtubs are not heavy enough to offer much protection from these events, but are better than nothing.
  2. Discuss a meeting point in case you are separated during the chaos of a severe storm. This can be a tree in the side yard or a corner on your street. This way, you aren’t wasting time looking for each other.
  3. Emergency Kits should contain a flashlight with fresh batteries, candles/matches/water, battery operated radio, and/or a hand crank radio to listen for any updates or warnings in the event of power loss. You should check on these supplies every time you change your smoke alarm batteries – at the change of seasons.
  4. A First Aid Kit is a great asset and having what you need handy can prevent serious health emergencies. You may be able to help others and not just the individual for whom you’re providing senior home care. Click here for a recommended list of contents.

If you are responsible for providing care or home care for an elderly person, you’ll want to ensure you and your elderly patient are safe at all times. Thankfully, severe weather does not occur too often, but it is recommended to have plans in place for when severe weather strikes.

 

Slipping Through The Cracks: How Seniors Need Help

senior man health issuesMeet Arnie

Dumbfounded by his fierce independence… His story includes the social isolation is not uncommon in today’s families who are geographically separated. His adult children lived out of town.  ‘Arnie’ was 83 years old and lived in an apartment adjacent to a major divided highway.  I climbed six cement stairs and then another step to get to the doorway of his apartment. This was not easily accessible for an 83 year old senior person with impaired vision.

Home Safety

Arnie looked right past me when we met because of his macular degeneration; he also had high blood pressure and several other illnesses requiring multiple prescription medications. These diagnoses dictated a complex medication schedule. What struck me was that he had such complete and utter denial that his living situation was significantly unsafe. At times, Arnie was unable to use either of his phones safely because of his vision deficit, he confessed to having eaten rotten food because he could not see it, who knows how frequently he took his prescription medications incorrectly.

So Many Falls

Don’t forget the falls, ’every once in a while’ in his apartment that were, ‘no big deal.’  The most significant issue was that he actually walked in the divided highway –in the snow– because there was not a sidewalk that was cleared.  Arnie needed groceries and cat food. Not to mention he navigates those cement snow & ice covered cement steps to leave his apartment.  At one point in the recent past he actually lost his balance and fell in the street requiring treatment from emergency response personnel; he sustained lacerations and a knee injury and was released to his apartment.

ALL BY HIMSELF.

No way to get pain medicine or home health care orders to observe his wounds and ensure healing.

Who addressed why he was walking in the street in the winter… when he could not see?

As my interview progressed he casually mentioned his children lived out of state. “They call me all the time though.”

How a Senior Care Director Can Help

  • I engaged a family member (with his permission)
  • I requested a skilled home care Nurse/Physical Therapist/Occupational Therapist regarding falling, medication teaching, and vision impairment
  • I contacted the local Area Agency on aging for community resources
  • I contacted a private duty home care agency for assistance with home upkeep/shopping/cooking
  • I discussed long-term planning and a move to a senior living community

FREE Resource

Arnie is just one example of senior family members who get lost in aging. Does your senior need help? Click here to get my free report on the 12 Warning Signs Your Elder Needs Assistance.

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.

FINDING THE RIGHT NEIGHBORHOOD:

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 state.gov/dhs.  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.

1. NEEDS ASSESSMENT:

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.

3. PAYMENT RESOURCES:

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.

4. MOVING-OUT, THEN IN:

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.

5. TRANSITION NEEDS:

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.

CONCLUSION:

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.

National Glaucoma Awareness Month

January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month.

Glaucoma âge elderlyAccording to the Glaucoma Research Foundation, almost 3 million people in the US over the age of 40 have glaucoma. Half of those affected do not even know they have it. The National Eye Institute projects a 58% increase by 2030 to total of more than  4 million people affected. This disease is sneaky, since there are not symptoms. Once vision is lost, it is permanent. It has been called “the sneak thief of sight.” It’s hard to believe that one can lose as much as 40% of their vision without noticing.

Our goal for this post is to raise awareness and educate readers about this sight-stealing disease.

What is Glaucoma?

Glaucoma refers to a group of eye conditions that lead to damage to the optic nerve: often without symptoms. The optic nerve is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain. In most cases, damage to the optic nerve is due to increased pressure in the eye, also known as intraocular pressure (IOP). Most common forms primarily affect middle-agers and seniors, but glaucoma can be present in all ages.

Is there a cure for Glaucoma?

Presently there is no cure for glaucoma. EARLY DETECTION IS KEY! Medication and surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. Treatment is determined by the type of glaucoma and other health factors.

There are two main types of glaucoma:

  • Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma(POAG) and Angle-Closure Glaucoma(IOP). Both of these types are distinguished by an increased intraocular (inner eye) pressure. Normal Tension Glaucoma is marked by optic nerve damage even with normal inner eye pressure.
  • Secondary Glaucoma is optic nerve damage caused by another disease or factors that contribute to increased eye pressure, resulting in optic nerve damage and loss of vision. There are other types of glaucoma as well.

How to prevent Glaucoma?

To best protect sight from glaucoma, get regular and comprehensive eye examinations. Again, early detection is most important. Those at highest risk are African-Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. Siblings of those affected with glaucoma are also at significant risk for developing it. Others at rsik are people over age 60, family members of those diagnosed, diabetics, and people who are severely near-sighted. Regular eye exams are especially important for those at risk and may prevent unnecessary loss of vision.

If eye drops have been ordered for treatment, these simple steps can help those who need them. Eye drops are most often prescribed for treating glaucoma; using them properly is really important. Use just as instructed by your eye care professional. Proper use of your glaucoma medication can improve the medicine’s effectiveness and reduce risk of side effects.

How to use Glaucoma Eye Drops:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Hold the bottle upside down.
  • Tilt your head back.
  • Hold the bottle in one hand and place it as close as possible to the eye.
  • With the other hand, pull down your lower eyelid. This forms a pocket.
  • Place the prescribed number of drops into the lower eyelid pocket. If you are using more than one eye drop, be sure to wait at least 5 minutes before applying the second eye drop.
  • Close your eye OR press the lower lid lightly with your finger for at least 1 minute. Either of these steps keeps the drops in the eye and helps prevent the drops from draining into the tear duct, which can increase your risk of side effects.

More information on Glaucoma:

There are many resources available for learning more about glaucoma visit:

www.glaucoma.org

http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/glaucoma/glaucoma_facts.asp

http://www.eyecareamerica.org/

Do you have or someone you love been diagnosed with Glaucoma? How have you or they been treated?