Financial scams targeting seniors have become so prevalent that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century.” Why? Because seniors are thought to have a significant amount of money sitting in their accounts.
Financial scams also often go unreported or can be difficult to prosecute, so they’re considered a “low-risk” crime. However, they’re devastating to many older adults and can leave them in a very vulnerable position with little time to recoup their losses.
It’s not just wealthy seniors who are targeted. Low-income older adults are also at risk of financial abuse. And it’s not always strangers who perpetrate these crimes. Over 90% of all reported elder abuse is committed by an older person’s own family members, most often their adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others.
Review our list below, so you can identify a potential scam.
1. Medicare/health insurance scamsEvery U.S. citizen or permanent resident over age 65 qualifies for Medicare, so there is rarely any need for a scam artist to research what private health insurance company older people have in order to scam them out of some money.
In these types of scams, perpetrators may pose as a Medicare representative to get older people to give them their personal information, or they will provide bogus services for elderly people at makeshift mobile clinics, then use the personal information they provide to bill Medicare and pocket the money.
2. Counterfeit prescription drugsMost commonly, counterfeit drug scams operate on the Internet, where seniors increasingly go to find better prices on specialized medications. This scam is growing in popularity—since 2000, the FDA has investigated an average of 20 such cases per year, up from five a year in the 1990s.
The danger is that besides paying money for something that will not help a person’s medical condition, victims may purchase unsafe substances that can inflict even more harm. This scam can be as hard on the body as it is on the wallet.
3. Funeral & cemetery scamsThe FBI warns about two types of funeral and cemetery fraud perpetrated on seniors.
In one approach, scammers read obituaries and call or attend the funeral service of a complete stranger to take advantage of the grieving widow or widower. Claiming the deceased had an outstanding debt with them, scammers will try to extort money from relatives to settle the fake debts.
Another tactic of disreputable funeral homes is to capitalize on family members’ unfamiliarity with the considerable cost of funeral services to add unnecessary charges to the bill. In one common scam of this type, funeral directors will insist that a casket, usually one of the most expensive parts of funeral services, is necessary even when performing a direct cremation, which can be accomplished with a cardboard casket rather than an expensive display or burial casket.
4. Fraudulent anti-aging productsIn a society bombarded with images of the young and beautiful, it’s not surprising that some older people feel the need to conceal their age in order to participate more fully in social circles and the workplace. After all, 60 is the new 40, right?
It is in this spirit that many older Americans seek out new treatments and medications to maintain a youthful appearance, putting them at risk of scammers. Whether it’s fake Botox like the one in Arizona that netted its distributors (who were convicted and jailed in 2006) $1.5 million in barely a year, or completely bogus homeopathic remedies that do absolutely nothing, there is money in the anti-aging business.
Botox scams are particularly unsettling, as renegade labs creating versions of the real thing may still be working with the root ingredient, botulism neurotoxin, which is one of the most toxic substances known to science. A bad batch can have health consequences far beyond wrinkles or drooping neck muscles.
5. Telemarketing/phone scamsPerhaps the most common scheme is when scammers use fake telemarketing calls to prey on older people, who as a group make twice as many purchases over the phone than the national average. While the image of the lonely senior citizen with nobody to talk to may have something to do with this, it is far more likely that older people are more familiar with shopping over the phone, and therefore might not be fully aware of the risk.
With no face-to-face interaction, and no paper trail, these scams are incredibly hard to trace. Also, once a successful deal has been made, the buyer’s name is then shared with similar schemers looking for easy targets, sometimes defrauding the same person repeatedly.
Examples of telemarketing fraud include:
The pigeon dropThe con artist tells the individual that he/she has found a large sum of money and is willing to split it if the person will make a “good faith” payment by withdrawing funds from his/her bank account. Often, a second con artist is involved, posing as a lawyer, banker, or some other trustworthy stranger.
The fake accident ployThe con artist gets the victim to wire or send money on the pretext that the person’s child or another relative is in the hospital and needs the money.
Charity scamsMoney is solicited for fake charities. This often occurs after natural disasters.
6. Internet fraudWhile using the Internet is a great skill at any age, the slower speed of adoption among some older people makes them easier targets for automated Internet scams that are ubiquitous on the web and email programs. Pop-up browser windows simulating virus-scanning software will fool victims into either downloading a fake anti-virus program (at a substantial cost) or an actual virus that will open up whatever information is on the user’s computer to scammers.
Their unfamiliarity with the less visible aspects of browsing the web (firewalls and built-in virus protection, for example) make seniors especially susceptible to such traps. One example includes:
Email/phishing scamsA senior receives email messages that appear to be from a legitimate company or institution, asking them to “update” or “verify” their personal information. A senior receives emails that appear to be from the IRS about a tax refund.
7. Investment schemesBecause many seniors find themselves planning for retirement and managing their savings once they finish working, a number of investment schemes have been targeted at seniors looking to safeguard their cash for their later years. From pyramid schemes like Bernie Madoff’s (which counted a number of senior citizens among its victims) to fables of a Nigerian prince looking for a partner to claim inheritance money to complex financial products that many economists don’t even understand, investment schemes have long been a successful way to take advantage of older people.
8. Homeowner/reverse mortgage scamsScammers like to take advantage of the fact that many people above a certain age own their homes, a valuable asset that increases the potential dollar value of a certain scam.
A particularly elaborate property tax scam in San Diego saw fraudsters sending personalized letters to different properties apparently on behalf of the County Assessor’s Office. The letter, made to look official but displaying only public information, would identify the property’s assessed value and offer the homeowner, for a fee of course, to arrange for a reassessment of the property’s value and therefore the tax burden associated with it.
Closely related, the reverse mortgage scam has mushroomed in recent years. With legitimate reverse mortgages increasing in frequency more than 1,300% between 1999 and 2008, scammers are taking advantage of this new popularity. As opposed to official refinancing schemes, however, unsecured reverse mortgages can lead property owners to lose their homes when the perpetrators offer money or a free house somewhere else in exchange for the title to the property.
9. Sweepstakes & lottery scamsThis simple scam is one that many are familiar with, and it capitalizes on the notion that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Here, scammers inform their mark that they have won a lottery or sweepstakes of some kind and need to make some sort of payment to unlock the supposed prize. Often, seniors will be sent a check that they can deposit in their bank account, knowing that while it shows up in their account immediately, it will take a few days before the (fake) check is rejected. During that time, the criminals will quickly collect money for supposed fees or taxes on the prize, which they pocket while the victim has the “prize money” removed from his or her account as soon as the check bounces.
10. The grandparent scamThe grandparent scam is so simple and so devious because it uses one of older adults’ most reliable assets, their hearts.
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 (overdue rent, payment for car repairs, etc.), to be paid via Western Union or MoneyGram, which don’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.”
While the sums from such a scam are likely to be in the hundreds, the very fact that no research is needed makes this a scam that can be perpetrated over and over at very little cost to the scammer.
If you suspect 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 could 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: www.eldercare.gov
The National Council on Aging is recognizing all family members who help to take care of a loved one. November is the month to recognize those who do so, whether it is in your home or a loved ones home... we thank you!
There are a lot of resources out there for you and your loved one. Here is a video that explains where to start!
With a third of people age 65 and older reporting a fall each year and two-thirds of that number falling again within six months, falling poses a significant risk to seniors in their daily lives. In fact, falling is the most common cause of injury-related deaths in those age 65 and older and leads to the majority of their lifetime injury costs.1 Falling can cause traumatic injuries, most commonly hip fractures, which often lead to hip replacement surgery. These joint implants, while becoming more and more common, have dangers associated with the many recent hip replacement recalls. The risk of hip fracture dramatically increases with age: among people 65 to 69, one out of every 200 falls causes a hip fracture, a number that jumps to one out of every 10 falls in people 85 and older.2 Shockingly, a fourth of those who fracture their hip die within 6 months. While that statistic is affected by a variety of factors, not least of which is the age of the individual involved, hip fractures are serious injuries and all care possible should be taken to minimize the risk.
Fear of falling causes many elderly people to restrict their day-to-day activities, but drastic steps aren’t always needed. Many falls can be avoided by taking action to secure areas in and around the home, allowing people to continue to lead the lives they want to without fear.
UNDERSTAND THE CAUSESThe first step toward preventing falls is understanding what causes them.
Research has shown that the benefits of exercise go beyond just physical well being. Exercise helps support emotional and mental health. So next time you’re feeling down, anxious, or stressed, try to get up and start moving!Physical activity can help:
Exercise ideas to help you lift your mood:
AgingCare.com has provided us a great article to learn more about Parkinson's (be sure to click the teal links to see the full article).
The Benefits of Staying Active with Parkinson's
Is Physical Therapy Useful for Parkinson’s Treatment? Physical therapy can help people with Parkinson's to move easier, with less rigidity, freezing and balance problems.
3 People Turning Parkinson’s Into Inspiring Works of Art Meet three people living with Parkinson's who are using their creativity to manage their disease and inspire others.
Parkinson’s Sufferers Find Peace, Purpose in Creative Pursuits Art therapy has long been used as a way to enhance the quality of life in people with Parkinson's disease. Now, new research shows that Parkinson's medications may increase creativity in people with the disease.
Parkinson’s Patients 'Dance for Life' Some support groups now use movement to help people with Parkinson's and their caregivers better cope with the disease. Discover how one woman is helping Parkinson's patients "Dance for Life."
Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease
Parkinsonism: Other Disorders That Resemble Parkinson's The uncontrollable shaking and tremors associated with Parkinson's disease are also present in several other senior health conditions.
Parkinson’s Disease Psychosis: What Caregivers Need to Know Parkinson's disease psychosis is a little-known symptom that can be challenging for families to manage. Here's what family caregivers need to know.
Parkinson’s Disease: Tips for Dealing with Common Symptoms Symptoms of Parkinson's disease can disrupt daily life for people suffering from the disease and their caregivers. There are ways to reduce the likelihood that these symptoms will occur, and cope with them if they do.
What is deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's Disease? Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a controversial treatment used for neurological disorders that do not respond to medication.
Find Help with Parkinson’s Care
Benefits of Hiring a Home Care Companion for an Older Adult Hiring a home care companion can provide physical assistance for your loved one as well as help with the emotional and routine aspects of daily life.
Questions to Ask When Choosing a Memory Care Facility Memory care facilities provide increased levels of care and safety for individuals with Alzheimer's and dementia. This list of core concerns can help you efficiently evaluate each facility you consider.
Assisted Living Questions and Answers Caregivers and seniors have plenty of questions about assisted living. What is it? Can we move in mom's sofa? Who administers medication? What happens if there's an emergency? And what does it cost?
How to Pick an Adult Day Care Center This checklist will help guide caregivers in choosing the best adult day care center that will meet their needs, as well as those of their elderly parent.
AgingCare.com has provided a great list of Products to help with you or a loved one at home:
Find products to lighten your daily caregiving workload and help your loved one remain independent as long as possible.
Bathroom & BathingResources and information for bathroom and bathing products for aging seniors. Elder care assistive devices such as toilet and shower seats, walk in tubs, lift systems and grab bars.
See all products in: Bathroom & Bathing
Bedroom & SleepingProducts and aids for sleeping issues for the elderly. Geriatric and senior bed trays, rails, pads, mattress covers, pillows and other devices for sleep care needs in aging adults.
See all products in: Bedroom & Sleeping
Exercise & FitnessResources for exercise and fitness equipment, products and aids for aging seniors and the elderly. Comprehensive gear for seniors better active living.
See all products in: Exercise & Fitness
Health & Medical SuppliesMedical supply products for the elderly at home. Guides and aids for aging seniors and their families and caregivers. Daily care accessories needed for elder care.
See all products in: Health & Medical Supplies
Home & HouseholdAssistive products and devices for the elderly living at home. Safety aids for better daily living for aging adults and their families. Equipment to aid in mobility and safety for seniors at home.
See all products in: Home & Household
IncontinenceSupplies and products for aging seniors and the elderly living at home. Information and guides for families and caregivers of aging parents dealing with incontinence and daily living issues. Disposable adult diapers, pads, underwear and home care supplies.
See all products in: Incontinence
Kitchen & EatingProducts and resources for utensils and tools for the elderly and seniors. Daily kitchen tools and aids needed in the daily care of aging parents at home. Jar openers, grip silverware and other assistive devices for cooking and eating.
See all products in: Kitchen & Eating
Leisure & RecreationRecreation and activity products for seniors and the elderly. Games, books, software and activity kits for seniors and aging parents. Supplies that encourage interaction and alertness in daily caregiving for aging parents and their families.
See all products in: Leisure & Recreation
Medical Alert SystemsDevices and medical alert systems for aging and elder care. Products that notify emergency services when needed for seniors living at home. Usable and wearable aids with automatic and manual alerts for daily care with aging parents and the elderly.
See all products in: Medical Alert Systems
MobilityMobility products and devices for the elderly and seniors living at home. Equipment and aids such as walkers, wheelchairs, canes and ramps for families and caregivers of aging adults.
See all products in: Mobility
Organization ToolsProducts and tools to help caregivers stay organized while caring for their aging parents. Elder care organization aids for daily activities, schedules and routines.
See all products in: Organization Tools
Personal Care & DressingAids and informational guides for personal care and dressing the elderly and aging adults. Help and resources for families and caregivers daily activities with aging parents and seniors who live at home.
See all products in: Personal Care & Dressing
Security, Safety & FallsSafety products for aging seniors and the elderly who live at home that prevent and offer protection from hazards. Security devices and equipment for families for the home and outdoors to protect and alert accidents or potential dangers or abuse.
See all products in: Security, Safety & Falls
Vision & HearingDevices and products for the blind and aging adults with low vision and hearing impairments. Amplified phones and aids for reading and hearing needs in daily living activities for the elderly.
BY MARLO SOLLITTO (Provided by AgingCare.com)Falls are the leading cause of death, injury and hospital admissions among the elderly population. In fact, one out of every three seniors falls every year. Last year alone, more than 1.6 million seniors were treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries.
Several factors contribute to the fact that seniors fall so much more frequently than younger people:
Lack of physical activity. Failure to exercise regularly results in poor muscle tone, decreased bone mass, loss of balance, and reduced flexibility.
Impaired vision. This includes age-related vision diseases, as well as not wearing glasses that have been prescribed.
Medications. Sedatives, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotic drugs, plus taking multiple medications are all implicated in increasing risk of falling.
Diseases. Health conditions such as Parkinson's disease,Alzheimer's disease and arthritis cause weakness in the extremities, poor grip strength, balance disorders and cognitive impairment.
Surgeries.Hip replacements and other surgeries leave an elderly person weak, in pain and discomfort and less mobile than they were before the surgery.
Environmental hazards. One third of all falls in the elderly population involve hazards at home. Factors include: poor lighting, loose carpets and lack of safety equipment.
However, falls are not an inevitable part of growing older. Many falls can be prevented, by making the home safer and using products that help keep seniors more stable and less likely to fall.
Preventing Falls in an Elderly Person's HomeCaregivers can do several things to make the home safer for their senior mom or dad.
There are also pad/monitors that detect and sound an alarm if a person steps on the pad (detects pressure). This type of pad can be used beside the bed, in a hallway or in front of a chair while the person is seated.
Fall mats. Fall mats are used in areas where a person could be injured from a fall on a hard floor such as the side of a bed, by a toilet or in front of a chair. They are cushioned floor mats of various sizes 1-inch or 2-inches thick with beveled edges. They cushion the fall and prevent injuries.
Grab bars. Install them near the toilet, in the bathtub and shower.
8 in 10 Americans Concerned about Safety of Older Loved Ones, Most Not Doing Anything about It
SAN MATEO, CA – November 16, 2015 – Nearly 8 in 10 Americans (77%) are worried about the safety of their parent and/or grandparent living alone or with a spouse/partner, according to a new Caring.com report. Yet despite these concerns, the majority of children and grandchildren have not equipped their older loved one’s home with safety features such as grab bars in the shower, raised toilet seats, an emergency response system and/or an entrance ramp.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.5 million adults 65 years and older are treated for unintentional fall injuries each year. While many of these injuries can be prevented by equipping senior citizens’ homes with relatively inexpensive safety equipment, most are living without these features. In fact, in a recent Caring.com survey of adult children and grandchildren age 18 and older, these family members reported that among seniors living alone:
Living without these items not only endangers a senior’s personal well-being, but it could lead to high health-related costs down the line. The average hospital cost for a fall injury is about $35,000 and Medicare typically only covers about 78% of that, according to the CDC.
“Many of the basic safety features can be purchased for less than $1,000,” said Cohen. “That’s much more reasonable than being hit with a $10,000 hospital bill, and worse, having a parent or grandparent with a broken hip.”
The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI) and can be seen in more detail here:https://www.caring.com/infographics/senior-fall-prevention-by-the-numbers
PSRAI obtained telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults living in the continental United States. Interviews were conducted by landline (1,000) and cell phone (1,000, including 595 respondents without a landline phone) in English and Spanish by Princeton Data Source, September 17-20 and October 1-4, 2015. Statistical results are weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the complete set of weighted data is plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.
CDC Data: http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/fallcost.html
Study Examining Senior Care Cost and Quality Reveals Best and Worst States to Age in
SAN MATEO, CA; May 9, 2016 -- South Dakota is the best state to grow old, according to a new Caring.com report which examined a variety of financial, healthcare and quality of life categories. Neighboring Iowa and Minnesota ranked second and third, respectively. Click here for more information.
The study found there's generally an inverse relationship between the cost and quality of senior care. South Dakota and Iowa are perfect examples of a sweet spot: they offer excellent care at below-average prices. Among the 15 states with the cheapest senior care, just two rank in the top half for quality (South Carolina and Kansas).
The worst state to grow old is West Virginia, which was dragged down by a last-place showing in the healthcare and quality of life categories. New Jersey and New York join the Mountaineer State in the bottom three. These heavily populated neighbors are hampered by very high costs and below-average quality scores.
"The main takeaway from this research is that the traditional retirement destinations don't always offer the best mix of cost and quality," said Dayna Steele, Caring.com's Chief Caring Expert and the author of Surviving Alzheimer's with Friends, Facebook and a Really Big Glass of Wine. "This is why it's so important for people to do their homework while they're still relatively young and healthy in order to set themselves up for retirement years that are truly golden."
Florida came in 31st overall (mostly due to below-average healthcare quality) and Arizona tied for 17th.
Watch Dayna Steele's video explaining the study below:
2015 Cost of Care Survey (Genworth) 2014 State Long-Term Services and Supports Scorecard (AARP, The Commonwealth Fund and The SCAN Foundation) 2015 State of American Well-Being (Gallup-Healthways) Over 100,000 consumer reviews of senior care facilities (Caring.com)
In-home care, also known as homecare, is nonmedical care provided in the client's home. It includes custodial care and assistance with activities of daily living such as eating, bathing and providing medication reminders. Homecare workers are professionally trained caregivers who provide companionship and are responsible for maintaining a safe environment for the person receiving care. Caregivers are available to provide assistance that allows many seniors to remain at home -- from one afternoon per week or 24 hours a day.
In-Home Care Options
There are different types of in-home care to accommodate seniors with different needs. In-home caregivers, also known as personal care assistants, come to the home to help with activities daily living, such as light housekeeping, grocery shopping, meal preparation, medication reminders, and grooming. Some provide help with personal care for toileting and bathing. In-home caregivers generally do not provide medical care.
For those who need a higher level of care (deemed necessary by a doctor), home healthcare is an in-home service in which nurses or trained health aides provide skilled medical care. These caregivers also help with activities of daily living such as housekeeping, eating and grooming, and/or physical therapy. A doctor can also help determine whether in-home care is the best route or whether your aging loved one needs to move to a skilled nursing facility.
Care companions, also called elder companions, provide company for older adults living alone, especially those who are homebound due to frailty or dementia. In addition to helping with daily activities, they help decrease isolation and improve quality of life.
What to Expect
Homecare can be arranged without a physician's order and is different from home health care, in that caregivers do not provide nursing care. For example, while they may provide medication reminders, they are not allowed to administer medication. Neither are caregivers housecleaners; although some light housekeeping may be necessary and appropriate, heavy housecleaning is normally not expected. Homecare workers may provide care within a facility setting; check with the agency you have chosen to verify whether it offers this service.