On National Senior Citizens Day we celebrate the people who are part of the fastest-growing demographic in the world. According to the traditional definition, a senior citizen is anyone older than 60 years of age, but this seems relatively young in today’s society! This day was declared to celebrate, honor, and give thanks to all the contributions that generations of individuals have given to their families and communities. Whether it is showing gratitude for a loved one, friend, elder you care for, or close member of your community, take time on August 21st to reach out and show your appreciation.
On August 19th, 1988 President Ronald Reagan declared August 21st National Senior Citizens Day. Here is what he had to say: “For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older.” – President Ronald Reagan
Some great ways to do this could be:
- Taking your loved one out to the movies – everyone can appreciate a nice matinee!
- Creating a video of different family members discussing their favorite memories with the individual.
- Want to get your kids involved? Many local assisted living and nursing homes offer “adopt-a-grandparent” programs, linking up young children with seniors. This is a great way to not only get your kids involved with the community, but also inform them about the significance of Senior Citizens Day.
- Creating a personalized picnic with all their favorite foods.
- Treating your loved one to a nice meal out.
- Offering a helping hand with any small things they need done around the house.
- Something as simple as making a phone call to show how much you love and support them.
- Don’t have someone specifically in mind to celebrate? Volunteer at local assisted living homes or veterans homes.
If you are a senior citizen yourself, well, Senior Citizens Day is all about you. Live a little! Spend time with your favorite people. Treat yourself to an ice cream sundae. Knock something off your bucket list. Or just relax with friends and family. Do whatever floats your boat, because the day is dedicated to you! You’ve earned it!
Happy Senior Citizens Day!
Scammers will use any means to extort money from those they deem to be the most vulnerable. Often, they target senior citizens. Many seniors are targeted on a daily basis by predatory scammers and con-artists looking to take advantage of them, and keeping your elderly loved ones informed has never been so crucial.
If you’re worried that you or a loved one is being targeted, this guide will help you learn about common scamming methods, how to avoid becoming the target of a scam, how to recognize signs that someone is being affected by a scam, and what to do when you’ve discovered that a scam has taken place.
Common Methods of Contact for Scammers
Those looking to commit fraud will use any possible avenue to achieve their goal. Your phone, email inbox, and even your front door can become entryways for those with malicious intent. Because any method of contact can be used to defraud you or your loved ones, constant vigilance is required. Let’s discuss some of the most common methods of contact for scammers.
- Robocalls and pre-recorded messages: Most people are familiar with those annoying, automated phone calls that implore you to give away your personal information for a promised “free vacation” or some other alluring reward. These illegal calls are designed to gather information in order to steal from you, and robocall scams are on the rise.
- “Unknown number” or number spoofing: Callers may block their number or use voice over IP software to trick phone networks into believing that they are calling from your area code. Both of these tactics can make it unclear whether the call is legitimate, often leading targets to answer these calls. This opens the door to them being manipulated and possibly scammed.
- “Official looking” emails: Scam emails are very frequently designed to look like they originated from Microsoft or Apple. The emails may directly ask for your personal information or login credentials, or it may link to a phishing site — a website that tries to steal your information by tricking you into believing it is authentic.
- Information around your home or in your mail: Scammers may take some time to investigate your home before attempting to scam you. They often look for any stickers, notices, stray mail, and so on from known maintenance or utility companies on your property. Using this information, they will pretend to be an employee to gain access to your home and/or get your personal information.
Identifying the Most Common Scams
In order to defend yourself or your loved ones, you should get familiar with the strategies fraudsters use to exploit the elderly. Let’s take a look at the the most common scams. Learning about these will enable you to anticipate scams and protect yourself or report a suspicious person when needed.
Tech Support Scams
Have you ever received a call, email, or pop-up notification from tech support about a necessary update or software to remove dangerous viruses on your computer, tablet or phone? These “tech support calls” can be a scam.
If you get an email or phone call from a person claiming to be from Microsoft or Apple, be wary. Don’t give these people any information. They may be selling malware-laden software or are simply trying to steal your personal information in order to commit identity theft.
If you get a letter in the mail, a phone call, or an email informing you that you’ve won some sort of lottery — one that you’re unaware you were ever entered into — you may be the target of a lottery scam. The “prize money” is often locked behind supposed customs fees, taxes, and other expenses that you’re responsible for. They’ll often take wire transfers, credit card numbers, or even gift cards to pay these fees. The biggest problem with this is that the prize money doesn’t exist.
The easiest way to avoid this scam is to carefully analyze any propositions like this. Some of this boils down to common sense — if you didn’t enter a lottery, it’s extremely unlikely that you would be selected as a winner of one. However, if the lottery seems to be operated by a reputable organization, do some research: contact the group or check their official site for any evidence that the drawing is legitimate.
Home Repair Scams
This covers a variety of scams that involves fraudsters either taking money upfront for work they’ll never complete or participating in unethical behavior that you’ll have the pay the price for later. Some examples of home repair scams, as listed by the FTC, include:
- Home repair scams: Scammers often target the elderly, who often have physical limitations preventing them from doing essential home repairs or maintenance. If your property is in clear need of repairs or lawn care, they may offer to handle those issues for you for upfront payment. Instead of completing the work, they’ll leave after taking your money.
- Utility cut-on scams: Those forced to live without utilities — particularly seniors living in areas that have recently been struck by natural disasters — are commonly targeted by this scam. A person will pose as an employee from your utility company and offer to reconnect services for a fee, only to disappear after receiving payment.
- Cable reconnect scams: If, after going through your mail, scammers notice that your cable has been disconnected due to non-payment, they may offer to reconnect your cable for a surprisingly low fee. They may actually reconnect your cable — but doing so is illegal. You’ll be stuck with further fees and potential legal action against you if you accept this offer.
Homeowner/Reverse Mortgage Scams
Reverse mortgages, an option for people at least 62 years old, can help seniors (who are often on a fixed income) overcome financial hurdles. Unfortunately, predatory lending practices have led to many seniors being charged unreasonable interest rates. Such loans with predatory rates are often called reverse mortgage scams.
The FBI has given some advice for seniors to avoid these loans. This includes:
- Not responding to unsolicited loan offers
- Carefully analyzing loan offers that seem too good to be true
- Not signing anything that you don’t understand
- Seeking out a reverse mortgage counselor before accepting any offers
Sometimes, scammers may target seniors by falsely posing as representatives from government organizations such as the IRS or SSA. They’ll demand payment for back taxes, for missing jury duty, or for some other false pretense and extort money under the threat of arrest, jail time, or deportation. Using phone number spoofing (as outlined above) and fake badge numbers, a call from such a scammer may even appear to be authentic.
Do not pay the imposter, and report any such attempts. Federal organizations such as the IRS don’t contact civilians in this manner to collect debts — they’ll typically make such requests through the mail.
Health Care/Health Insurance/Medicare Fraud
If someone claims that they are a representative from the government looking to help you continue your Medicare coverage, be wary: They may be simply looking to get your information in order to commit identity theft. This scam most often takes place during the Medicare “open enrollment” period and disproportionately targets seniors.
Only provide information after you’ve verified who you’re talking to. You can call 1-800-MEDICARE to check that you’re not speaking with an impostor.
Another type of scam that can harm seniors is romance scams. Malicious users will often target widows or widowers on social media or dating sites, posing as a new potential romantic interest. After taking some time to build trust with the target, scammers will begin to request more information about them, perhaps even soliciting money via wire transfers. Blinded by love, these users will often lose hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in this long con.
This is a prevalent problem on dating sites. In fact, 12 percent of all dating site users are conned. In order to avoid becoming a part of this statistic, do not give information or money to anyone unless you’ve verified their identity. Thoroughly research people online, and keep an eye out for any inconsistencies in a person’s backstory; these might be the signs of a fake, malicious user.
In a similar manner to romance scams, grandparent scams involve assuming a false persona in order to develop a relationship with a target under false pretenses. In this scam, fraudsters pretend to be the distant relative of the target (or a lawyer presenting the relative) in order to extort money from them for supposedly urgent reasons. This is particularly problematic when the person being targeted has memory-related issues stemming from conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia.
An especially disheartening type of scam, charity frauds and donation scams are very common, particularly during the holiday season. People looking to turn the spirit of cheer and goodwill into personal gain may pose as a collector for a charitable (often non-existent) organization and solicit for donations.
Don’t donate before researching the veracity of this organization. If they have a good, reputable track record, you can feel confident that your donations will go toward the cause it is intended to. Furthermore, instead of giving money to a door-to-door collector, opt to donate directly to the organization when possible.
General Tips for Avoiding Scams
While some advice for common scams can be found in the previous section, there are some best practices that you must follow in order to protect both yourself and your family. Here are some of the most important general tips you should follow to avoid becoming the victim of a scam:
Do Not Share Personal Information
- Your personal information can be used by fraudsters to impersonate you. Bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and more can be opened in your name, and resolving a case of identity theft can be an expensive and panic-inducing experience. PIN numbers, credit card numbers, your Social Security number, passwords, even email address or mail addresses should all be kept strictly confidential.
- Legitimate companies will not ask for your PIN or password. You should treat any requests for your personal information with extreme suspicion.
Do Your Research
- When speaking to someone representing themselves as an employee for a reputable organization, don’t take their word for it. Keep notes, always asking for full names, a reciprocal phone number, their manager’s/supervisor’s phone number, badge numbers, ID cards, and/or some form of identification that confirms they are who they say.
- Do some research on the company before accepting an email or letter as authentic. Search the company or product name if they give you one along with words like “scam” or “complaint.” These results could reveal that they are part of an ongoing scam. You should also try searching with a phrase that describes the situation you think you might be experiencing, such as “IRS scam call.”
- Research the company on the Better Business Bureau. The BBB will give you an idea of the company’s reputation and give you valuable information to conduct further research.
Be Wary of When and How You Pay
- Do not pay upfront for promises. No reputable organization or service should charge you upfront for services regarding debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. These types of fees, as noted above, are extremely common in scams — and are a sure sign that you need to be cautious.
- If you are interested in something, ask the representative to send you an offer in writing. This will help you do further research and, if necessary, serve as evidence when you report any potential scams.
- There is a reason that scammers often accept wire transfers or reloadable money cards/gift cards; they aren’t easily traced. As such, using these methods is risky. Government offices and honest companies will not ask you to use these as a method of payment — they will send you a bill.
- Read the fine print and be wary of “free” trials. Such “free trials” often aren’t free at all: They may lead to unexpected charges, commitments to months of a service you don’t want to use, or worse. Take a look at customer reviews and check out the business on the Better Business Bureau before accepting any such offers.
Red Flags for Caregivers and Loved Ones to Lookout for
If you have concerns that a friend, family member, or patient is being targeted or has been affected by a scam, there are signs to look out for. Unusual behavior in regards to finances or contact with strangers could indicate that you need to open a dialogue with the person in question.
Unusual and Sudden Changes Regarding Finances
- Sudden financial problems: If a person has an uncharacteristic lack of money — or, worse, they are beginning to leave bills unpaid — there must be clear reason for this change. A financial scam could be to blame.
- Uncharacteristically secretive about their spending: If communication with an individual hits a brick wall whenever the subject of their spending comes up, they may be trying to hide their spending. Whether they feel ashamed for being scammed or have been manipulated into believing that no one should know about it, secrecy could be another sign that they are being taken advantage of.
- Excessive withdrawals or expenditures: If you have evidence that the person is withdrawing or spending an inordinate amount of money, and there is no clear reason why, you should be on the lookout for any other signs they are being scammed.
Abnormal Contact with Strangers
- An unusual amount of contact with strangers: An excessive number of phone calls, emails, paper mail, or house visits from unknown individuals or companies should put you on the lookout. Scammers often build a sense of urgency through multiple messages to extort money.
- A sudden fixation with someone new: Long cons often require that fraudsters build a sense of trust with their target, as is often the case in romance scams. Fraudsters groom their targets by building trust, pretending to befriend them, or show romantic interest and try to isolate them from their families.
What to Do if You or a Loved One Is the Victim of a Scam
Do any of the scam methods above sound like something you or a loved one has been through? Do you feel like you or they may be the victim of another type of scam? The following advice will help victims protect themselves and minimize the damage the scam can do to them.
Stop All Contact Immediately
- If you are still in contact with the person you suspect has scammed you, stop the conversation immediately. Don’t answer phone calls from the suspected scammer and don’t reply to emails or messages. Their efforts will be dedicated to extorting more money from you and manipulating you as much as possible, and confronting them will not resolve the situation.
- Do not make any more payments to the scammer. No amount of money will deter a fraudster or make them go away; if they suspect they can continue to exploit you, they will continue to do so. These are called follow-up scams, and they can cause serious, recurring financial harm to those affected.
Call Your Financial Institution
- If you have sent money to a scammer or given them any personal information that could be used against you, call your bank or credit union and explain to them that you believe you are a victim of a fraud. They will freeze any relevant accounts and give you further instructions to protect your identity.
- Most institutions will have procedures in place to deal with fraud. Check your bank’s website for advice regarding fraud and closely follow any advice they offer.
Assess Online Security
- Change passwords for all online accounts. Be sure that your passwords are strong by creating a complex one consisting of letters, symbols, and numbers. Do not share passwords across different sites or platforms; if one suffers a data breach, you can bet that cyber criminals will access each of your accounts using that password.
- Update PIN numbers. Just as with your passwords, if your PIN numbers are compromised, you’ll need to have them changed as soon as possible to prevent credit card fraud. You’ll may also need to open new banking accounts and be issued new credit cards, depending on the nature of the scam you were subjected to.
- Change your phone number. Once you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you’ll want to get a new phone number in order to avoid any other attempts at fraud or follow-up scams. Furthermore, since your phone number is needed for two-factor authentication for many applications/platforms, be sure to have your number updated in those places to maintain access to those services.
- Block the scammer through whichever avenue they contacted you through — such as your phone number, email, or social media profile. This is also necessary in order to avoid future attempts at scams. The malicious user may attempt to create new accounts or spoof a new phone number in order to bypass these measures, so be wary of opening emails, accepting friend requests, or answering calls from unfamiliar sources.
Report the Scam
Above all, in order to keep others safe from the scam that affected you, be sure to report the crime with the appropriate organization:
- The Federal Trade Commission is the ideal place to start when looking to report an act of fraud. You can file a complaint online or at 1-877-FTC-HELP. The FTC Complaint Assistant can give you more information on who to contact depending on the nature of your specific complaint.
- You’ll also want to file your complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center if the crime in question took place online. Complaints to this organization are used to inform cybersecurity efforts from the FBI and other organizations.
- Contact your local Adult Protection Services. These organizations are dedicated to protecting the vulnerable in the aging community.
See the original article here: Avoiding Elderly Scams: https://www.fiscaltiger.com/avoiding-elderly-scams/
As it turns out, turmeric (more specifically its active compound, curcumin) is more than just a delicious seasoning for your favorite Indian takeout dish. This fragrant yellow spice, a close relative of ginger, is also renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidant effect, weight management support, and pain relief. Wondering if supplementing with turmeric can help improve your pain in a natural way? Turmeric (curcumin) shows a surprising number of health benefits:
One of the most compelling benefits of using turmeric is its pain relief properties. One study conducted by the Cytokine Research Laboratory found that the curcumin in turmeric was a more effective anti-inflammatory than aspirin and ibuprofen, and has pain-relief properties on par with phenylbutazone and hydrocortisone. This is fantastic news for people with chronic pain who are concerned about the negative side effects (like liver damage and ulcers) that can arise with long-term or heavy use of NSAIDs.
Curcumin is also renowned for its antioxidant properties, which can make a big difference in how quickly your body heals! The cells in your body create “free radicals” as part of their normal metabolic cycle. And when inflammation is present in the body, free radical production goes up. Without antioxidants (which neutralize free radicals), these harmful free radicals have the potential to further damage the cells and organs in the body. Adding antioxidants like curcumin to your diet while you recover from an injury can help your body heal.
Using Turmeric for Inflammation
While there isn’t a standardized dose of turmeric, many studies have concluded that, even at high doses, turmeric is safe for consumption. The most common mild side effect that you may notice is gastrointestinal discomfort, which can be avoided if you add turmeric to your diet slowly (instead of a high dose all at once!) In general, it’s a good idea to take the most natural (organic and minimally processed) form of turmeric/curcumin that you can find, to help your body most easily absorb it.
The most common ways to use turmeric/curcumin include the following:
You can make turmeric paste by mixing ¼ cup turmeric powder with ½ cup water, then heating on low until a thick paste is formed. This mixture can be kept in your fridge for several weeks. This paste can be eaten in turmeric milk (recipe below) or applied topically by mixing with coconut oil or olive oil spreading across the affected area. Massage this paste into the skin, wrap with plastic wrap, and leave on for an hour.
Add a piece of raw turmeric root (½ inch to 1 inch) or a teaspoon of turmeric paste to a cup of milk in a saucepan. Heat slowly to simmer, but do not boil. Any kind of milk (almond milk, coconut milk, cow’s milk) will work! For turmeric tea, repeat this same process with water. If you like, add a little bit of butter and maple syrup!
Curcumin can also be taken in concentrated form through capsules. Make sure you consult with a doctor on the right dosage for you before you begin taking curcumin capsules, since this method of taking turmeric is the most potent, and your doctor will have helpful insight into your unique health history.
Curcumin can also be taken as a food-grade essential oil, either topically or by mouth. If you don’t like the taste of turmeric milk, this can be a good way to take turmeric in a concentrated form! Keep in mind that, like other anti-inflammatories, turmeric is a blood thinner and should not be taken during pregnancy or before surgeries and medical procedures. Turmeric can also change how some medications interact with your body (like anti-depressants). When in doubt, ALWAYS talk to your doctor! Keep in mind that while turmeric shows a lot of potential for lowering inflammation and pain, it won’t treat the underlying cause of your pain.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms – often due to missing alarm batteries or expired alarms. Fortunately, a new generation of home safety technology – combined with tried-and-true safety practices – can help keep homes and families safer from the threat of home fires. First Alert offers the following steps to keep your home safe from fires, plus tips and products to keep your family safe and healthy:
Be safe, replace: If you can’t think of the last time you installed a smoke alarm, chances are, it’s time to replace your old ones. All smoke alarms – including battery and hard-wired models – are tested to function for 10 years. Installing new alarms ensures you are protected with the most advanced smoke-sensing technologies and latest safety features available. Conversely, by neglecting to replace alarms, you could be putting yourself, your family or tenants at serious risk.
Go for a 10: One of the greatest advancements in smoke alarm technology in recent years has been the development of new 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms, such as First Alert’s 10-Year Atom Smoke & Fire Alarm, which consumers have used to add fire protection to their homes. The Atom features an advanced smoke entry system designed to reduce the chances of false alarms, along with a loud, penetrating siren. In addition, 10-year alarms provide hassle-free protection so homeowners, property owners and renters no longer need to remember to replace costly batteries for the life of their alarms. They also eliminate the risk of ever having an alarm deactivated due to battery removal.
In many areas of the country, upgrading to 10-year sealed battery smoke alarms is also the law. Several states, including California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Louisiana, New York and Oregon, as well as the cities of Phoenix, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Milwaukee and New York City, have passed laws requiring 10-year battery smoke alarms in residential buildings. Numerous other states and municipalities are considering similar legislation.
Double-up on safety: There are two main types of smoke alarms – photoelectric and ionization – which utilize different technologies to sense smoke and fire. Ionization smoke alarms are generally more responsive to fast-flaming fires, while photoelectric smoke alarms are generally more responsive to fires that begin with a long period of smoldering (called “smoldering fires”). Rather than relying solely on one, install both – or a dual-sensor alarm – to maximize your protection. The NFPA and other safety advocates recommend having dual-sensor alarms because they provide the best potential for early detection of all types of common household fires.
Featuring Smart Sensing Technology to better detect slow smoldering and fast-flaming fires, the First Alert 10-Year Alarm Life Dual Sensor Smoke & Fire Alarm provides the peace of mind of a dual-sensor alarm with the convenience of a 10-year sealed lithium battery. The alarm better detects real threats and helps to combat false or “nuisance” alarms that may lead to device deactivation – all while providing a decade of protection without the need for battery replacement. It also signals an end-of-life warning, notifying consumers when it needs replacement.
Cover your bases: Even if you have smoke alarms in your home, you and your family may not be sufficiently protected if you don’t have enough devices. To ensure the highest level of protection from smoke and carbon monoxide, the NFPA recommends installing smoke alarms at the top of each staircase and one in every bedroom or sleeping area. To put this into perspective, the average-sized home in America – a two-story, three-bedroom house – needs a minimum of five smoke alarms.
To learn more about 10-year alarms and alarm laws in your state, or tips for protecting your family from smoke, fire and carbon monoxide, visit the First Alert website at http://www.firstalert.com.
No matter how old or out of shape you think you are, it is never too late to add more physical activity to your life. Exercise is important for everyone, especially for people with disabilities. Regular and consistent exercise can:
- Help you control your weight. Along with healthy diet, exercise plays an important role in preventing obesity.
- Reduce your risk of heart diseases. Exercise strengthens the heart, improves circulation and can lower blood pressure.
- Improve your mental health and mood. During exercise, the body releases chemicals that can help you handle stress and reduce the risk of depression.
- Strengthen your bones and muscles. Weight-bearing activities can help increase and maintain muscle mass while slowing the loss of bone density that naturally comes with age.
- Reduce your risk of some cancers, including colon, breast, uterine and lung cancer.
Experts say these benefits apply regardless of ability or skill level and staying active can be even more critical for people with disabilities. Adaptive sports — activities modified for people with disabilities — provide improved physical and mental well-being, as well as increased independence, purpose and social interaction.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, “Recent studies indicate that disabled veterans who participate in adaptive sports report benefits such as: Less stress, reduced dependency on pain and depression medication, fewer secondary medical conditions, higher achievement in education and employment, and more independence.”
Paralyzed Veterans of America, a service organization that advocates for veterans who have experienced a spinal cord injury or disease such as MS or ALS, says adaptive sports are often game changers for their members, helping them through rehabilitation and improving their quality of life.
PVA and the Department of Veterans Affairs co-present the largest annual multi-sport wheelchair event in the world, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games. This year marks the 39th anniversary of the Wheelchair Games and more than 600 athletes will compete in 19 sporting events over six days in Louisville, Kentucky.
All participating athletes are U.S. military veterans who use wheelchairs due to spinal cord injuries, MS, ALS, certain neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments. Kenneth Lee, M.D., director of the Milwaukee VA Spinal Cord Injury Center and a combat-injured Army veteran, is the medical director of the Wheelchair Games. Lee says adaptive bike riding was key to his own difficult recovery after being injured in Iraq in 2004. It took him years to overcome the effects of an open head wound and shrapnel injuries to his legs.
Lee explains that sports tap into the natural competitive spirit and speed healing, physically and mentally. “Participating in adaptive sports gives patients a feeling of inclusion. They compete in new ways and you can see their confidence come to life,” he says. “When athletes go to the Wheelchair Games, they go home different, feeling like they can work through other barriers in their everyday lives,” he adds.
Adaptive sports do not alter the sports that able-bodied athletes play but simply allow modifications to fit the needs of the athletes with disabilities. This ensures adapted athletes are playing and competing on par with able-bodied athletes.
Army veteran Jennifer Steele says, “Sports really made me feel alive again!” Steele, 38, served as a sergeant on a patriot missile crew for five months at the beginning of the Iraq War. During her service, she started having difficulty running and was eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and given a medical discharge. It took years for her to work through the anger and depression that followed.
She still chokes up when she recalls the first time she played wheelchair softball. “It was like getting a part of myself back that I thought I had lost forever,” Steele says. This year, Steele is preparing to compete in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games for the third time.
Paralyzed Veterans of America has year-round adaptive sporting events across the country for individuals with disabilities, including people with amputation, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and neurological disorders such as MS or ALS. Learn more at pva.org/sports.
The power of physical exercise can help us all overcome hardships and challenges to improve our lives. A few small changes to your daily habits to make exercise a part of your regular routine can bring all of these benefits into your life as well.