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.
As Americans, we believe in justice for all. Yet, every year an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10 older Americans experience elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Unfortunately, it occurs in every demographic and can happen to anyone—a family member, a neighbor, even you. It is estimated that only one in five of these crimes are discovered.
Working together, we can build the social supports that can prevent this abuse and keep everyone safe as we age.
Older people are vital, contributing members of American society and their maltreatment diminishes all of us. Just as we have confronted and addressed the social issues of child abuse and domestic violence, so too can we find solutions to address issues like elder abuse, which also threatens the well-being of our community.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) – commemorated on June 15th every year – is an opportunity for people or organizations to take action to protect older people by raising awareness about elder abuse, why it occurs, and what we can do to stop it. Age Safe® America is proud to participate in this national conversation. We can act collectively to support justice for all.
(WEAAD) was launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN). WEAAD aims to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect. In addition, WEAAD is held in support of the UN International Plan of Action acknowledging the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. This observance serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations, and communities to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Please contact the National Center on Elder Abuse at 1-855-500-3537
Or visit the National Center on Elder Abuse https://ncea.acl.gov
or call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116. Thank you!
Want to make the world a better place? Being kind is the first step. We think everyday should be World Kindness Day but November 13th is the official date. World Kindness Day was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement. It is observed in many countries, including Canada, Japan, Australia, Nigeria and United Arab Emirates. Kindness is a virtue of paramount importance, yet not everyone goes out of their way to help someone else, or even take the small effort of smiling at a stranger. But there is no denying that there is an absolute necessity to be nice to others, even if it requires an effort.
The purpose of World Kindness Day is to look beyond ourselves, beyond the boundaries of our country, beyond our culture, our race, our religion; and realize we are citizens of the world. As world citizens we have a commonality, and must realize that if progress is to be made in human relations and endeavors, if we are to achieve the goal of peaceful coexistence, we must focus on what we have in common. When we find likenesses we begin to experience empathy, and in such a state we can fully relate to that person or those people. While we may think of people from other cultures as being ‘different’ when we compare them with our own customs and beliefs, it doesn’t mean that we are any better than they are. When we become friends with someone from a different culture we discover that despite some obvious differences, there are many similarities.
How to Celebrate?
- Be kind and do random acts of kindness.
- Smile at strangers and do kind things for them. Give up your seat on the bus to someone else. Buy someone’s coffee for them. Volunteer your time at the local soup kitchen. Leave a kind note for someone.
- Kindness should not only be reserved for our fellow human beings. Be kind to the animals and to the environment as well.
- If you have children in your life, teach them the virtue of kindness by practicing it in your daily life.
- If you have elderly neighbors, offer to lend a hand, run an errand or simply play a game of cards and have a friendly conversation.
Did You Know…
…that researchers have found there is a positive feedback loop between happiness and kindness? Undertaking acts of kindness makes one happy, and people who are happy tend to be kinder to others.
We are pleased to announce the much anticipated release of the Senior Home Safety Specialist™ online course!
Our goal is to provide a holistic curriculum and a fresh look at many issues affecting seniors endeavoring to “age safe at home”.
The Senior Home Safety Specialist™ course empowers participants with actionable ways to better help educate clients, older adults and their family members on the serious issues of home safety, fall prevention, financial exploitation and personal safety. This comprehensive 5-hour self-paced audio/video course offers the only certificate of its kind to individuals within the senior services industry. This important training consists of a 17-module self-study educational program with a quiz after each section that participants must pass in order to continue. Upon successfully completing the entire course, you will receive an attractive Certificate along with a digital copy of the Senior Home Safety Specialist™ emblem to use in your own marketing efforts.
What is Covered in This Online Course:
– Fall Prevention Myths and Solutions
– Fire Safety Precautions and Solutions
– Aging-in Place Home Modifications
– Mobility and Accessibility Issues
– Home and Senior Safety Technologies
– Considerations for Alzheimer’s/Dementia
– Crime Prevention and Personal Safety
– Senior Exploitation, Identity Theft and Scams
– Communication with Older Adults and Family
– Performing a Complete Home Safety Assessment
If you have a group of 4 or more participants please use the form to the right to request a 25% DISCOUNT!
Here’s what people are saying about the course:
“I would recommend all professionals working with older adults in the home make this part of their overall certifications, such as CPR and AED, because it will save lives.” – Oscar E. Rodriguez, MD
“The Age Safe America Senior Home Safety Specialist is a tremendously comprehensive training on the identification of and solutions to the dangerous hazards in the home that put our older adults health at risk. I would recommend all professionals working with older adults in the home make this training a part of their overall certifications, such as CPR and AED certifications, because it will save lives. As a physician, I also would encourage family members with older loved ones, either in their homes or wanting to age in place, have a certified Senior Home Safety Specialist evaluate their home’s safety to prevent their loved ones from having to suffer an avoidable, costly and possibly life-threatening injury in the home.” – Oscar E. Rodriguez, MD, MBA, Co-founder/Chief Medical Officer Reassure Analytics, Inc.
“An amazing collection of information, well-presented. Good reminders of things we knew or should have known and a whole lot more new info – especially the Alzheimer’s segments. Great job! I like the way the segments are different lengths and formats also. Obviously a lot of time and effort went into the creation and production of this course”. – Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, CEAC, SHSS NAHB Master Instructor | CAPS Instructor of the Year 2015
“The Age Safe America course methodology and learning instruments for the purpose of Senior Home Safety Specialist provides an active part of being the expert to solve current home safety issues. Goals and objectives are clearly defined. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods offers effective ways to assess goals and outcomes for the family. Participants will demonstrate the ability and skill to discuss, analyze, and show knowledge in this very fragmented field.” – Robert Gurinowitsch C.E.A.C. COO Home Access Professionals
“The information in this course is excellent. I have been working with the senior population as an Occupational Therapy Assistant for 6 years. I’ve been on a lot of home evaluations and I must say that the material presented in this course is highly relevant and accurate, and I learned a great deal of new information regarding home safety modifications for seniors. I highly recommend this course”. – Jay Chapman OT
“I completed this course at the same time I was trained for the CAPS designation. This course dovetailed well with the CAPS courses I took because it extended the material to safety in many meaningful ways. Adding another layer of effective ways to help my clients be safe as they age in place at home.” – Laura Miller, CSA, CAPS, Life Transition Specialist
“The Age Safe America course is extremely well organized and informative. The instructors are knowledgeable and provide clear examples for the student to achieve success. There was not one glitch with the software which is amazing considering the amount of audio and video files attached to the training course. The idea of the point system and badges is brilliant because it provides the user with visual goals and a sense of accomplishment. Well Done!” – Christopher MacLellan, M.A., “The Bowtie Guy” Caregiver Advocate, Founder of the Whole Care Network
“Age Safe America has created a comprehensive course with a perfect fit of content, information, and pacing. The course was current and included new and updated information as well as served as a refresher, both with added value. The variety of topics were above my expectations. Although the course is 6 hours, it is formatted just perfectly. As an Occupational Therapist and Certified Aging In Place Specialist I know this course knowledge will be used in my daily work. For anyone working with seniors, their families, caregivers and the community this course is a MUST. I continue to be impressed with Age Safe as they lead the cause for Senior Safety and Advocacy.” – Raphaele Wagner, MS, OTR/L, CAPS, CHC
“Being in health care for over 18 years as a Home Care franchise owner, Publisher of two Seniors resource magazines and Vice President of the State of Illinois Continuity of Care Association, I thought I knew it all…well, I didn’t. Excellent program, timely information and great presentation. Will recommend Highly to my colleagues!” – Michael Quirk, Publisher Seniors BlueBook, Chicago, IL.
“The amount of information included in the Senior Home Safety Specialist course is truly impressive. Each module helps to reinforce the fundamental aspects of improving home safety for Seniors as well as providing significant new information on everything from new technologies to understanding the challenges preparing a home for someone with progressing dementia. The comprehensive checklist helps to ensure that no potential hazard is overlooked while conducting a home safety assessment, not only for Seniors, but for any home. Resources for furthering your research and training are also included in many of the modules. The team at Age Safe America, clearly have a passion for leading the development of Senior Safety Advocates that will be in demand, as many Seniors continue to elect to stay in their homes as long as feasible and safe.” –Bruce Wilson Founder Senior SafeGuard
“This course was very thorough with minimal redundancy. Having been a COTA for 30+ years, there were some things I hadn’t even thought of or was aware of. Thank You ASA for increasing my knowledge and awareness of safety options!” –Kathleen Hulme, COTA
“The course was very informative – what you think may be common sense, but there is much more to becoming a Home Safety Specialist. I am elated I took this course. I feel I will be doing more justice to my elderly community and to myself. Thank you Steven for our chat! I cannot wait to get started in helping seniors live SAFE! Excellent!” – Trish Wilcher, Time on a Dime Errand Service
“What a wonderful course and group training event for our staff and with so many beneficial take-a-ways! We especially liked Communicating with Older Adults and Family Members and Fire Safety. This will add to our ability to educate clients and their family members on the serious issues of fall prevention, financial scams and personal safety. The course content definitely met our expectations, and I would recommend it to other professionals in this field.” – Anna Lattuca, Evergreen Senior Living
- “The Age Safe America course was super beneficial for my role in home health care and I found it very informative and thorough! The course covered a lot of topics that come up frequently during my in-home assessment including Alzheimer’s and Dementia communication, home safety ideas, fire safety, scams and fraud, safety around the house including the info on grab bars, stair safety, lighting, etc. Very often I have clients ask me questions about how they should better set up their homes to make sure they are safe so this was really helpful!” –Katelyn Tselios, Client Care Coordinator for Visiting Angels
“This Senior Home Safety Specialist course is a comprehensive online course that is supported with information to assist professionals as they work with consumers to make safety modifications to their homes. I would recommend this course to Occupational Therapists, Builders, Remodelers, Home Inspectors, and anyone who advises on home safety. Safety is a prime consideration in a home, regardless of the ages of the occupants. The course has ample photos to support the content that show examples of safe conditions and products that can enhance safety. The modules are organized into topics making it easy to take a break while taking the online course and return to finish the next modules at a convenient time.” – Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D., Author of the Universal Design Toolkit
“The Senior Home Safety Specialist course was everything I have come to expect from a company that is in the forefront of senior advocacy like Age Safe America. As a new senior home safety advisor, the information contained in the course has armed me with a solid grasp of what I need to effectively aid my clients with fall prevention and independent living. Fritzi Gros-Daillon is extremely knowledgeable. There were points that she brought out that I never even considered. The information on dementia and Alzheimer’s needs is outstanding. Great job Age Safe America.” – Rhonda Smith SafeHome Senior Solutions
“Excellent information that filled in some gaps for me and my knowledge base. I especially appreciated the emphasis put on the fire safety and senior scams/identity theft. Would recommend to others without hesitation!” – Claire Mayfield, OT, CAPS Owner TrueNorth Home Safety
“As an Occupational Therapist, and well versed in home safety, I found this course to be very relevant, up to date and well organized. I appreciated the statistics and references by the national aging organizations. I would recommend this Senior Home Safety Specialist course to anyone in the senior industry who wants to help our seniors age safely at home”. – Alan Prince, OTR/L, CAPS Owner of Rebuild for Life
Great course! Well organized and very informative. I’ve been carrying out home assessments almost everyday for 8 years and still learned a lot from this course. I believe comprehensive home safety assessments and home modifications are mandatory for anyone planning to age in place safely and comfortably! – Marcelo Carmen, Jr., Occupational Therapist, Community Based Rehabilitation
“As a senior center professional and administrator of our Minor Home Repair programs the additional information will help me do my job better. I see our program offering several more classes on home safety based on what I learned. Thank you!” – Karen S Adcock, SDC Director of Senior Services, City of Auburn Hills, MI
“The course content and statistical information provided throughout the course are very current and will enhance any individual or organization providing services and products to the senior demographic. An excellent approach to identifying the greater picture of challenges facing North America. The course modules provide educational content that will help train professionals, caregivers and service providers seeking knowledge to educate themselves and/or their organizations to better support our aging population. The course highlights a path forward for those who will make a difference in the Aging in Place markets. Highly recommend this course for anyone who is making in-home safety recommendations or providing home alteration and modifications for our seniors”. – Peter Hache, President Renos4Seniors Ottawa, ON Canada
“Presenter and materials were excellent. She is very well spoken, respectful, patient and most knowledgeable. As a volunteer with the Saluda Living In Place (SLIP) program, I now feel more confident to serve as best I am able to help ALL persons, ‘of age’ or younger, to be safe and live long, healthy lives, in the place of their choice”. – Frank McNutt, Non-Profit Volunteer
“I found the information regarding appropriate electrical outlets to be helpful. I do like the inclusion of helpful solutions, especially technology related solutions, to offer safety modifications to our clients – more of that type of information would always be appreciated”. Yes, I would recommend this course to other professionals. – Dr. Linda Frasier, Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy at Touro University Nevada
“I was blown away by the extent of the content in this course! I am a Registered Nurse that has incorporated my nursing knowledge into senior estate downsizing and hoarding property cleanouts, often dealing with overlapping medical issues of my clients. My approach of holistic healing to improve quality of life through decluttering, home safety and education of my clients was greatly enhanced by the thoroughness of this course! I cannot wait to pass along this information to my clients and their families”. – Shelly Galland, RN and Home Organization Consultant
“Excellent course. It seems to be very comprehensive in highlighting potential dangers in the home. I am looking forward to starting to practice this in the field and see for myself, hands on, the specific relevance of these important points. I live in Israel, so it will be important for me to see how this relates to the style, culture, and general home standards in this country. Currently I am a handyman installing grab bars on a volunteer basis for a local charity organization. I have found I enjoy working with elderly people – it gives a good feeling of satisfaction. Thank you”. – Yitzchak Friedman, Former Hi-Tech Engineer building a Home Safety business.
“I found the information to be very useful. It was presented in a way that was straight forward and easy to follow along. Each section was first defined as to the topic/area being covered and then presented step by step with a basic explanation of each key point. The presenters voice was enjoyable to listen too. Her pace was perfect, although I did stop many times to take useful notes.” – Relissa Stute, Senior Safety Advisor
“The course is interesting and thought provoking, better than I expected. Yes, I would recommend this course to other professionals.” – Elodio Medina, Housing Rehab Specialist
“We owned and operated a 100 bed assisted living facility in Arizona, most of our clients came to us due to a fall, and usually heartbroken that they had to leave their homes. Most of them believed that they would one day return home, there were only a few. We feel so excited to help our community to stay home safely where they want to be. Such a wonderful course, and it was easy to understand, and very comprehensive. I wish I had found Age Safe America years ago”. – Caroline Wilford, It’s So Good to be Home, Inc.
Much of the coursework is universal and has been taken by professionals throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, Europe and the Middle East.
Age Safe America is a national membership, training and advocacy organization dedicated to meet the growing need for Home Safety Assessments and Aging-in-Place Home Modifications. The company is directed by nationally recognized experts in fall prevention, home safety, aging-in-place, universal design, home modifications, environmental assessment, and marketing to seniors and aging boomers. We provide training, consulting, certifications, product reviews, tools, resources and support to businesses and organizations providing products and services to seniors and their adult children.
Age Safe America is committed to home safety and accessibility to help older adults improve their odds for having an independent and productive life. Age Safe America offers the Senior Home Safety Specialist™ course to individuals currently serving seniors, that includes education for home safety, fall prevention, fire safety, home modifications and crime prevention. The goal of Age Safe America is to help older adults and their families enjoy the comfort, freedom and independence to “age safe at home.”
Financial exploitation is a fast-growing form of abuse of seniors and adults with disabilities. Situations of financial exploitation commonly involve trusted persons in the life of the vulnerable adult, such as caretakers, family members, neighbors, friends and acquaintances, attorneys, bank employees, pastor, doctors or nurses.
Who is at risk?
The following conditions or factors increase an older person’s risk of being victimized:
- Recent losses
- Physical or mental disabilities
- Lack of familiarity with financial matters
- Have family members who are unemployed and/or have substance abusers problems
Why are the elderly attractive targets?
- Persons over the age of 50 control over 70% of the nation’s wealth
- Many seniors do not realize the value of their assets (particularly homes that have appreciated markedly)
- The elderly are likely to have disabilities that make them dependent on others for help. These “helpers” may have access to homes and assets, and may exercise significant influence over the older person
- They may have predictable patterns (e.g. because older people are likely to receive monthly checks, abusers can predict when an older people will have money on hand or need to go to the bank)
- Severely impaired individuals are also less likely to take action against their abusers as a result of illness or embarrassment
- Abusers may assume that frail victims will not survive long enough to follow through on legal interventions, or that they will not make convincing witnesses
- Some older people are unsophisticated about financial matters
- Advances in technology have made managing finances more complicated
What are the indicators?
Indicators are signs or clues that abuse has occurred. Some of the indicators listed below can be explained by other causes or factors and no single indicator can be taken as conclusive proof. Rather, one should look for patterns or clusters of indicators that suggest a problem.
- Unpaid bills, eviction notices, or notices to discontinue utilities
- Withdrawals from bank accounts or transfers between accounts that the older person cannot explain
- Bank statements and canceled checks no longer come to the elder’s home
- New “best friends”
- Legal documents, such as powers of attorney, which the older person didn’t understand at the time he or she signed them
- Unusual activity in the older person’s bank accounts including large, unexplained withdrawals, frequent transfers between accounts, or ATM withdrawals
- The care of the elder is not commensurate with the size of his/her estate
- A caregiver expresses excessive interest in the amount of money being spent on the older person
- Belongings or property are missing
- Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents
- Absence of documentation about financial arrangements
- Implausible explanations given about the elderly person’s finances by the elder or the caregiver
- The elder is unaware of or does not understand financial arrangements that have been made for him or her
On this day Age Safe America joins the world in voicing our opposition to elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Today, we mark the eleventh observance of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in our nation and around the world. World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was launched by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations. The purpose of WEAAD is to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect.
As Americans, we believe in justice for all. Yet every year, our country fails to uphold this principle for an estimated 5 million, or 1 in 10, older Americans who are the victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. It doesn’t have to be this way. Elder abuse includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, exploitation, neglect, and abandonment. Perpetrators include children, other family members, and spouses—as well as staff at nursing homes, assisted living, and other facilities.
The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) serves as a national resource center dedicated to engaging and empowering older people so that they may be an advocate for themselves and their communities. We recognize that it is up to all of us, as a community to ensure the right social structures are in place so people can remain connected to their communities and to society as a whole, reducing the likelihood of abuse. Through evidence based policies, initiatives, education and civic engagement, we can create a sturdy social structure that can support us as we grow older. First established by the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) in 1988 as a national elder abuse resource center, the NCEA was granted a permanent home at AoA in the 1992 amendments made to Title II of the Older Americans Act. To carry out its mission, the NCEA disseminates elder abuse information to professionals and the public, and provides technical assistance and training to states and to community-based organizations.
While some progress has been made in stemming the tide of elder abuse and financial exploitation, there is so much that we still must accomplish. So, on this World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we ask all Americans to join Age Safe America to help prevent and combat all forms of elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation.
Where can you learn more?