It may be hard to know the difference between age-related changes and the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, if the person was never good at balancing a checkbook, struggling with this task is probably not a warning sign. But if their ability to balance a checkbook has recently changed, it is something to share with a doctor. To help, the Alzheimer’s Association has created this list of warning signs for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Individuals may experience one or more signs in different degrees. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.

Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s, especially in the early stages, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.

Challenges in planning or solving problems.
Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

Confusion with time or place.
People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Vision changes related to cataracts.

New problems with words in speaking or writing.
People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).

What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.

Withdrawal from work or social activities.
A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

Changes in mood and personality.
The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.


If you’ve misplaced your keys, you’re probably just experiencing what millions of other Baby Boomers are: normal age-related memory difficulties. Here are some suggestions to help you with memory issues:


• Keep a routine
• Organize information (keep details in a calendar or day planner)
• Put items in the same spot (always put your keys in the same place by the door)
• Repeat information (repeat names when you meet people)
• Run through the alphabet in your head to help you remember a word
• Make associations (relate new information to things you already know)
• Involve your senses (if you are a visual learner, visualize an item)
• Teach others or tell them stories
• Get a full night’s sleep
• Learn more about what you can do to maintain your brain health and strengthen your memory


For better brain health, consider these options:

Challenge yourself:

Be socially active:

Follow a healthy diet:

Be physically active:

Reduce stress:

Protect your head:

Make healthy lifestyle choices:


If, on the other hand, you suspect a loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or a related dementia, it is important to get a proper diagnosis from a licensed doctor.

Be aware that many illnesses can cause confusion or dementia, and in some cases, those illnesses could be treated. For example, a urinary tract infection may cause confusion, but it can be treated. By having a correct diagnosis from a doctor, the doctor can decide on the best treatment and the family can start planning for the future. While there is no cure for AD and some other dementias, a loved one diagnosed with AD can maximize the quality of his or her life by receiving an early diagnosis.

The first step in getting an accurate diagnosis for an individual is visiting with that person’s primary care physician. Below are some quick tips to help you prepare a loved one for a visit to the doctor.

• Keep a journal of physical or mental complaints, unusual behaviors, and questions. Record such things as: What symptoms have you noticed? When did the symptoms first appear? How have the symptoms changed over time? Be specific and include minor symptoms. Present this to the doctor before the visit, if possible.

• Make a list of current medications. Include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs— even vitamins, supplements, herbs, and eye drops. Be sure to include a list of any drug allergies, as well as a list of current and past health problems.

• Schedule the appointment. You may want to talk with a loved one about making an appointment. Discuss this topic with a loved one, unless you think it will be upsetting. Ask a loved one if you can go along to the visit.

Written  by Fritzi Gros-Daillon

For additional information:

Crime Prevention Tips for Elderly


Crime and the fear of crime create special problems for the elderly. Understanding the nature of the problem and knowing what to do to avoid being a victim of crime can help you. The following crime prevention tips for elderly are commonsense advice can be effective when you follow them.



  • Always plan your route and stay alert to your surroundings. Walk confidently.
  • Have a companion accompany you.
  • Stay away from buildings and doorways; walk in well-lighted areas.
  • Have your key ready when approaching your front door.
  • Don’t dangle your purse away from your body. (Twelve percent of all crimes against the elderly are purse snatchings and street robberies.)
  • Don’t carry large, bulky shoulder bags; carry only what you need. Better yet, sew a small pocket inside your jacket or coat. If you don’t have a purse, no one will try to snatch it.



  • Don’t display large sums of cash.
  • Never leave your purse unattended.
  • Use checks where possible.



  • Always keep your car doors locked, whether you are in or out of your car.
  • At stop signs and traffic lights, keep the car in gear.
  • Travel well-lit and busy streets. Plan your route.
  • Don’t leave your purse on the seat beside you; put it on the floor, where it is more difficult for someone to grab it.
  • Lock bundles or bags in the trunk. If interesting packages are out of sight, a thief will be less tempted to break in to steal them.
  • When returning to your car, check the front seat, back seat, and floor before entering.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • If your car should break down, get far enough off the road, turn on your emergency flashers, raise the hood, get back into the car, lock the door, and wait for help.



Many criminals know exactly when government checks arrive each month, and may pick that day to attack. Avoid this by using Direct Deposit, which sends your money directly from the government to the bank of your choice. And, at many banks, free checking accounts are available to senior citizens. Your bank has all the information.

  • You should store valuables in a Safe Deposit Box.
  • Never give your money to someone who calls on you, identifying himself as a bank official. A bank will never ask you to remove your money. Banks need the use of your money, and they don’t want one of their customers to invite crime by having large amounts of cash around.
  • When someone approaches you with a get-rich-quick-scheme involving some or all of YOUR savings, it is HIS get-rich-quick-scheme. If it is a legitimate investment, the opportunity to contribute your funds will still be there tomorrow-after you have had time to consider it.



  • Never open your door automatically. Use an optical viewer. At night, draw your blinds or draperies.
  • Lock your doors and windows. (Three quarters of the burglaries involving older persons involved unlocked doors and windows; and, less than one half of these robberies are reported.) Keep your garage doors locked.
  • Vary your daily routine.
  • Use “Neighbor Watch” to keep an eye on your neighborhood. A concerned neighbor is often the best protection against crime because suspicious persons and activities are noticed and reported to police promptly.
  • Don’t leave notes on the door when going out.
  • Leave lights on when going out at night; use a timer to turn lights on and off when you are away for an extended period.
  • Don’t place keys under mats, in mail boxes, or other receptacles outside your door.
  • Notify neighbors and the police when going away on a trip. Cancel deliveries such as newspapers and arrange for someone – a neighbor’s child, perhaps – to mow the lawn if need be. Arrange for your mail to be held by the Post Office, or ask a neighbor to collect it for you.
  • Be wary of unsolicited offers to make repairs to your home. Deal only with reputable businesses.
  • Keep an inventory with serial numbers and photographs of resaleable appliances, antiques and furniture. Leave copies in a safe place.
  • Don’t hesitate to report crime or suspicious activities.


This crime prevention information is brought to you by:

The National Crime Prevention Council
305 15th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005


Common Senior Scams



Stay alert to these common senior scams!

  1. The Home Repair Scam

The Repair Scam can occur both on and offline.  Due to loneliness or diminished capacity, the elderly are particularly vulnerable because most seniors live alone and may not be able to withstand a pushy salesman.

They may contact the victim by phone or email and say something like this: “Mrs. Brown, your new air conditioner has arrived, and we are ready to come and install it, but we just need your credit card information to run the payment and then we can get your installation scheduled.” This scam works because people often pay for things to save themselves embarrassment (they may not remember ordering something like a new air conditioner).  People with genuine repair needs can suffer greater risks from unscrupulous vendors.  They might be overcharged or charged multiple times for the same work.


  1. The Magazine Subscription Swindle

Anyone can be targeted for this one, but seniors are especially vulnerable.  Here is how it works: For the last three months, your parents receive free issues of a magazine.  Once the three months are over, the calls begin.  The call might sound something like this: “Hi, Mr. Reader, this is Sally Fraudster in accounting with Free Catch Magazine.  I’m calling because your subscription with us is approaching the deadline.  You’ve received Free Catch Magazine for free for the last three months and according to the offer today is the final deadline.  I just need your credit card to ensure timely delivery of your magazine.” Everything Sally Fraudster has said is true: Mr. Reader has received the magazine for free for the last three months, but Mr. Reader incorrectly believes he owes them money. This scam works because people with any form of memory impairment generally believe that they probably did order something.  Similar to the Home Repair scam, con artists are banking on the elder preferring to pay up rather than suffer the embarrassment of trying to convince the caller that they did not place the order.


  1. The Uncollected Debt Scam

This scam preys on seniors at a very vulnerable time in their lives: after their spouse has died.  Scammers search the obituaries hoping to find a widow.  Then they call her and inform her that her husband left behind thousands of dollars of unpaid debt.  The scammers often threaten the widow with financial ruin, eviction, and public disgrace unless the debt is paid immediately. This works in households where one person manages the finances.  The widow does not want to be embarrassed and ends up paying the “alleged “debt to the criminals.


  1. The Phony Bank Inspector Scam

This is a scam which preys on the tendency of older people to have a “public spirit:” the phony bank inspector.  It was detailed in an episode of Dragnet 1967.  A criminal poses as bank inspector and pretends to investigate bank fraud at the senior’s bank.  He calls the senior and asks the senior to help him with his investigation by withdrawing a large sum of money.  Once the senior withdraws the money and hands it over to the phony inspector as “evidence,” the inspector disappears along with the money.


How to Find Help

If you are reading this and feel your parents may be vulnerable, don’t worry.  There are consumer protection laws, government resources, and private companies such as True Link that can assist you.  True Link has an innovative solution to help children protect their parents’ money from scammers.  It’s a prepaid debit card that enables loved ones to set up controls, monitor spending, and provide alerts to ensure mom’s or dad’s money is safe.

Individual states may also offer additional consumer protection remedies. has an excellent index of consumer agencies representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

If your parents have been a victim, contact your local law enforcement agency immediately.  Remember, financial fraud against the elderly is often unreported; don’t let your case be another one of them.

Prevent Identity Theft


Identities are stolen all the time. Identity theft simply refers to the unauthorized use of a person’s identifying information. That can include your name, your Social Security number, street address, email address, credit card, medical records — even your likeness.

Identity thieves use this information in all sorts of ways; they might open a bank account or line of credit, hide from law enforcement, or get a job all as you (or a version of you). They might even go to the doctor as you (and forward you the bill) or file your taxes “on time,” snagging your refund before you do. (the IRS rejected 4.8 million suspicious return filings in 2015 alone.

Sometimes your information is physically snatched, from your phone or wallet or computer, but most times it’s stolen electronically. In recent years, identity thieves have nabbed huge amounts of personal info from retail databases and sold it on the black market — the 2013 Target breach exposed as many as 70 million customers. More often, though, computer software (like malware or ransomware) is hidden in email attachments or as seemingly benign files on the web and, once downloaded, collects logins and passwords. Likewise, phishing and other email scams try to trick users into giving up personal information voluntarily: A website may look just like the one you use to bank, only the login and password go directly to an identity bandit. People in the business of stealing identities can be very creative, and they’re betting on your inattention. As consumers we need to be the manager of our credit and identity.

Take steps to protect yourself from identity theft:

  • Secure your social security number. Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet or write your number on your checks. Only give out your social security number (SSN) when absolutely necessary.
  • Don’t respond to unsolicited requests for personal information (your name, birthdate, social security number, or bank account number) by phone, mail, or online.
  • Watch out for “shoulder surfers.” Shield the keypad when typing your passwords on computers and at ATMs.
  • Collect mail promptly. Ask the post office to put your mail on hold when you are away from home.
  • Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.
  • Review your receipts. Ask for carbon copies and incorrect charge slips as well. Promptly compare receipts with account statements. Watch for unauthorized transactions.
  • Shred receipts, credit offers, account statements, and expired cards, to prevent “dumpster divers” from getting your personal information.
  • Store personal information in a safe place at home and at work.
  • Install firewalls and virus-detection software on your home computer.
  • Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess easily. Change your passwords if a company that you do business with has a breach of its databases
  • Order your credit report once a year and review to be certain that it doesn’t include accounts that you have not opened. Check it more frequently if you suspect someone has gained access to your account information.

Credit card fraud is the most common. In 2014, there were 17.6 million victims of identity theft in the U.S. — the equivalent of 7 percent of Americans over the age of 16! According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 86 percent of those thefts were credit card or bank account fraud. That’s why most credit card companies include fraud monitoring in their suite of services.

The earliest indicator that you may be sharing your identity with another person is often your credit report: a fraudulent account opened under your name. The three US credit bureaus —TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian — use different data to compile your scores, and not all financial institutions report your activity to all three. Plus, credit bureaus receive information about people at different times, so one bureau may see an issue sooner than another.

If you suspect identity theft contact the following:

  • Credit Reporting Agencies – Contact the three major credit reporting agencies to place fraud alerts or freezes on your accounts so that no one can apply for credit with your name or social security number. Also get copies of your credit reports, to be sure that no one has already tried to get unauthorized credit accounts with your personal information.
  • Financial Institutions – Contact the fraud department at your bank, credit card issuers and any other places where you have accounts. You may need your ID theft reports from the police and Federal Trade Commission in order to report the fraud.
  • Retailers and Other Companies – You will also need to report the fraud to companies where the identity thief created accounts, opened credit accounts, or even applied for jobs in order to clear your name.
  • State Consumer Protection Offices or Attorney General – Your state may offer resources to help you contact creditors, dispute errors and other helpful resources.







7 Signs of a SCAM


  • You’re asked to wire money to a stranger.
  • You’ve won a contest you’ve never heard of or entered.
  • You’re pressured to “act now!”
  • You have to pay a fee to receive your “prize.”
  • Your personal information is requested.
  • A large down payment is requested.
  • A company refuses to provide written information.

       Protect Yourself!


Seniors and Identity Theft

identity theft

Identity theft has become a significant crime in today’s society.  It can take various forms, including complete use of an another individual’s personal information as one’s own, use of a credit card for unauthorized purchases, or use of someone else’s Medicare ID number or health insurance number to obtain services or bill for services never provided.  Thieves can obtain the personal information needed to commit these crimes by simple techniques such as looking through trash, taking mail from a mailbox, or stealing a purse or wallet, to more involved schemes such as hacking into a personal computer, using medical or business records, or operating telephone/internet/door-to-door scams.

While identity theft can affect people of all ages, seniors may be especially vulnerable due to a number of factors.  In general, they are a lower risk for creditors because they carry less debt than younger adults and have paid off previous loans.  In addition, they have higher wealth and credit limits, and are less likely to check their credit reports. Therefore, thieves who use a senior’s information are more likely to have an application for a fraudulent loan or credit card approved.  Scammers will prey upon seniors who are lonely, and present themselves as friendly and sympathetic people who only want to “help”, thereby gaining the senior’s trust. Greater utilization of medical services can place personal information at risk just because it is available to a greater number of employees of health care providers.  Unfortunately, family situations may also create increased vulnerability for identity theft if a relative becomes desperate for cash due to a gambling or drug addiction, long-term unemployment, divorce, or some other crisis.

Identity theft among seniors may be an even larger problem than we currently suspect, because seniors are sometimes reluctant to report it.  They may not fully understand what has happened, or they may feel shame or embarrassment about something they did which “allowed” it to happen.  If a family member has perpetrated the crime, the senior may feel guilty about turning the person in to face consequences.

Additionally, seniors who are victims of identity theft may fear that others will be view them as incapable of managing their own affairs, causing them to lose financial control and independence.

The potential signs of identity theft are numerous.  Bank/credit card statements may arrive late or contain errors/unauthorized transactions.  You may not be approved for a loan or receive a job offer as expected.  Bills for products or services never ordered may be received, as well as collection calls for debts that aren’t yours.  Inaccurate information on a health insurance explanation of benefits form or credit report may be present. Businesses may not accept a personal check as payment for goods or services.  If you experience any of these events, it is important to investigate as soon as possible.

When identity theft has occurred, certain steps can be taken to mitigate the effects of the theft. There are three main credit reporting companies:  Equifax (800-525-6285), Experian (888-397-3742) and TransUnion (800-680-7289).  Calling any one of these companies to request that a fraud alert be placed on your account will trigger notification of the other two.  The initial fraud alert will remain in effect for 90 days.  In addition, copies of a personal credit report should be ordered from each one and carefully reviewed for accuracy.  If errors are found, contact the company immediately.  Finally, an Identity Theft Report should be created.  This report is comprised of two parts, an FTC Affidavit (a written complaint created by the Federal Trade Commission when you report the incident), and a police report (filed by taking your FTC Affidavit to a local police department).  To report identity theft to the FTC, call 877-438-4338, or visit their site online at

One can avoid the hassle and potentially devastating effects of identity theft by taking steps to protect personal information.

  • Shred documents containing personal information before throwing them away.
  • Do not give out personal information online, by telephone, or in person unless you have initiated the contact.
  • Check your credit reports regularly.  Federal law entitles you to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies (they don’t have to be at the same time).  Visit or call 877-322-8228.
  • Do not keep your passwords in a file on your computer.
  • Utilize passwords that mix letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Check your credit cards bills and bank statements when they arrive.
  • If you shop online, use websites which are secure.  A site that uses encryption to protect your personal information has “https” at the beginning of the web address.  The “s” is for secure.
  • Do not carry your social security card or Medicare card with you unless you specifically need it. Instead, keep it in a secure location at home.
  • Drop off mail at the post office instead of placing it in your mailbox.
  • Utilize anti-virus and firewall software on your computer.

For seniors who may be vulnerable to telephone scams, the National Consumers League has a Five Step process for helping seniors identify potentially fraudulent calls.  Visit the website and search for “They Can’t Hang Up”.

by Karen Kaslow, RN