How to Provide Care From a Distance

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

According to a study conducted by the AARP, 15% of the nearly 34 million Americans who provide care to a loved one are caregiving from a distance of at least one hour or more. Caring for a loved one can be complicated as it is, but when you add distance into the mix, it can have an even greater effect on career, savings, and a caregiver’s emotional well-being. What works for one caregiver may not work for another, and with diseases like Parkinson’s, a caregiver’s role will change as the disease progresses, so the landscape is ever shifting. Keep reading for some starter tips on how to care for someone with a chronic condition from a distance.

Of course, the type of care provided depends on an individual’s health, so it pays to keep on top of any health changes. If you’re too far to visit more than a few times a year then try to call, email, or Skype as often as possible. With certain debilitating diseases, like Parkinson’s, writing an email or holding a telephone may be too difficult, so Skype is a great alternative as a way to check in. It serves two purposes: first it lets them know you’re there even if you’re physically far away, and second, it lets you see any health changes or declines as if you were actually there. If Skype is not an option, enlist the help of a nearby friend or neighbor and ask them if they notice any changes.

In the event there is a health change, the next step is contacting the physician for a formal diagnosis. Your role as caregiver will change as health declines after a diagnosis, such as Parkinsons. At some point your loved one may need professional assistance with most of their activities of daily living. In the event of a physical change, many times a person is still able to live at home, but their doctor might recommend more caregiving hours or further home-health services to assist with helping the patient get stronger. Home health can even include physical therapy. Likewise, there are also agencies that provide everything from companionship to help with groceries or light housecleaning.

If you do decide to hire professional care, keep your loved one’s health records on-hand and well organized. This should include doctors’ names/phone numbers, medications, and doctor’s visits (both past and future). Also, have advanced health directives ready in case of an emergency. If possible, try to schedule doctor’s appointments when you are in town in order to let the doctor know what you are seeing or hearing from caregivers. This can help the diagnostic process enormously since you will be advocating directly for your loved one’s health.

If there is a primary caregiver that lives with your family member, like a healthy spouse or an adult child, one of the most important things you can do is provide respite to them. Caregivers face burning out and sometimes have health problems of their own, so any respite you can provide will allow them to emotionally recharge. When you do get to visit your loved one and their primary caregiver, catch up on medical related issues, but also remember to talk about shared interests that aren’t related to disease or chronic conditions.

Written by Max Gottlieb for Senior Planning. Senior Planning is a one-stop shop for senior resources, health resources, and care resources.

 

5 Strategies for Maintaining Community Connections While Aging

Community Connections for Seniors

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Aging in place may satisfy a senior’s desire for independence, but if they don’t maintain community connections, staying home could do more harm than good. While some seniors enjoy active social lives, others develop a fear of falling that keeps them home-bound more often than not. Our communities also affect seniors’ ability to stay engaged, with seniors suffering greater isolation in areas with poor walkability and limited community resources.

Staying engaged becomes much more difficult as we grow older, but it’s not impossible. With these strategies, seniors and their caregivers can avoid the isolation that comes with aging in place and enjoy better health while aging.

Move Downtown

Rural seniors have it harder when it comes to staying engaged. Isolation hits especially hard when rural seniors lose the ability to drive and can no longer get to their favorite activities. While moving isn’t without challenges, it’s easier for seniors to stay physically and socially active when they live in dense, walkable neighborhoods where everything they need is nearby.

When seniors need to move, it’s always better to do it sooner rather than later. Moving early in the senior years gives older adults an opportunity to form relationships and routines before the challenges of age catch up to them.

Downsize the House to a Manageable Size

Mundane tasks like cleaning the house can take a lot of energy as we get older. It’s understandable that seniors want to stay in a familiar home, but most seniors benefit from a downsized house that’s easier to move around and maintain.

Downsizing also saves money on housing costs. Even if a senior’s home is paid off, selling and buying a less-expensive home will provide a lump sum that can be used for senior care, healthcare, and other expenses. However, downsizing may not save as much money as a senior expects. Before diving seriously into the home-buying process, research home prices to get a clear picture of what you can afford and avoid sticker shock. For example, the median list price of homes in Huntingdon Valley is approximately $396,000.

Save Money with Alternative Living Arrangements

If a senior’s heart is set on an area but homes are not affordable, consider alternative living arrangements like home sharing. Sharing a home with a roommate reduces housing costs and combats loneliness for independent seniors. In some cases, a roommate may offer housekeeping or companion services in exchange for reduced rent and board.

Senior co-housing and cooperatives are other options. These communities combine private living spaces with communal facilities where seniors can connect with their fellow community members. Unlike assisted living, co-housing and cooperative communities are owned by the residents and cater to independent seniors, although residents may hire their own caregivers.

Connect with a Village

Villages are membership-based volunteer organizations designed to meet the needs of local seniors through volunteer services, service coordination, and social opportunities. While only a few communities have established villages, seniors can search for a local village organization or learn how to start a village at the Village to Village Network.

Stay Physically Active

Exercise helps seniors maintain their physical health so it’s easier to get out and enjoy life. Getting active is also a smart way to meet new people. Whether it’s a neighborhood walking group, a Zumba class (which only cost around $5 to $20 per session), or pick-up games at the local senior center, exercise allows seniors to mingle in a low-pressure environment.

Staying active also enables seniors to continue living independently. Physical exercise is the most important thing people can do to prevent Sarcopenia, the gradual muscle loss associated with senior frailty, among other age-related disabilities.

Aging in place presents many challenges, from remodeling the house for senior living to coordinating in-home care. While the challenge of senior isolation is often overlooked, it has a big impact on a senior’s ability to age in good health. By taking a community-minded approach, seniors can stay engaged, active, and independent throughout the senior years.

Post contributed by Hazel Bridges, the creator of Aging Wellness, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.

The Best Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Image courtesy of Unsplash

If you have lived in your home for a long time, chances are you think of it as a comfortable, safe environment. However, as people age, sometimes the risk for in-home falls can increase. To ensure you can savor the safety and comfort you’ve come to expect from your home, a handful of changes can make all the difference.

Cause for Concern

There are numerous reasons that seniors become at-risk for falling. Many of those reasons stem from physical changes relating to aging. Our vision isn’t as sharp as it used to be, or a health condition might cause balance concerns. Oftentimes, it’s harder to catch yourself when you stumble, due to a decrease in strength and flexibility. Some statistics show that 60 percent of senior falls occur in the home; thankfully, as HomeAdvisor explains, there are many modifications seniors can make to help prevent falls at home.

A House Full of Support

The last thing you want is for your home to become a danger zone. With that in mind, start making some notes about what you might change so you can safely age in place.

Here are some ideas:

Light Your Way

Vision naturally fades later in life, with eyes gradually slowing in how they adjust to depth and brightness. With that in mind, brightening dim areas in the home — especially places you go from a well-lit space to a dark one — can help you stay safe. For example, if you leave a bright bedroom for a dark hallway, adding lights in the hallway can help. This can come in many forms, such as installing wall sconces, adding plug-in nightlights, and/or installing overhead lights. Staircases are another area of concern. Contemplate your trouble spots and think of how to improve them, aiming for generally even lighting throughout your home.

Ease Your Entryway

Reducing risks in the entryway can make a difference in keeping you on the go. The ideal situation will include a zero-step entrance, and if steps are a must, ensure they are deep, even, and have handrails for support. Also, change out traditional doorknobs for lever-style handles, which can be easier for older hands to operate, especially if you’re carrying things.

Slips and Slides

With water, smooth surfaces, and changing positions, bathrooms can be hazardous for older adults. To enhance safety and accessibility, consider installing grab bars in the bathroom, and swapping a traditional toilet for a comfort-height selection. Walk-in showers or tubs can also be a boon, and faucets with lever-style handles can be easier to work with than knobs.

Put Away Your Toolkit

There are some simple changes you can make in the bathroom as well that require no tools or expertise. To boost traction, add a rubber bath mat outside the bathing area, and install non-slip strips inside the shower or tub. A magnified mirror can make it easier to groom yourself, and a pill bottle magnifier can help you read the fine print.

Focus on You

Aside from home modifications, there are changes in lifestyle you can embrace to help prevent falls. Tech-Enhanced Life explains that you can design an exercise program aimed specifically at addressing your personal risk. Base your regimen on how much strength, balance, and flexibility you currently have. There are fun options you can explore, like tai chi or a class at a local gym. If your risk is severe, Medicare might pay for you to work with a physical therapist.

When it comes to falls, the home can hold many areas of concern for seniors. Think about how you can improve both your living environment and lifestyle to reduce your risk of falling. With a few changes, you can enjoy safety and comfort at home throughout your golden years.

Post contributed by Kent Elliot at AtHomeAging.info

Stay Fit without Sacrificing Food, Fun, or Family Time this Summer

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Ice cream, baked beans, and burgers are all quintessential summer fare, but these delicious indulgences shouldn’t comprise the bulk of your warm-weather diet. Here are a few ways to encourage your entire family to eat healthy all summer long.

Add alternative ingredients

You don’t have to live by grandma’s recipe book in order to enjoy a delicious meal at sunset. Consider swapping a few ingredients in your favorite recipes to cut down on fat and calories. For instance, use cabbage instead of tortillas when making enchiladas or tacos. You can also replace ground beef with ground turkey or chicken and cool off with frozen fruit pops instead of ice cream.

Shop local

There are a number of reasons why you should shop at your local CSA or farmers market before a conventional grocery store. Perhaps the most important is that food grown within 100 miles of relocation tends to retain more nutrients and is picked when ripe as opposed to being artificially ripened using ethylene gas. As an added bonus, spending your Saturday morning digging through bushel baskets of fresh produce is a fun and economical way to get the kids interested in the quality of the food they consume. The Food Revolution Network also points out that fresher food tends to taste better and the money you spend at the farmers market will support your local economy.

Go for color

Nature has made it easy to get a variety of vitamins and nutrients by color-coding fruits and vegetables. Experts say you should eat the rainbow, but what does this mean? Essentially, it’s a way to select what goes on your plate by avoiding too many of the same types of food. Orange fruits and vegetables, such as pumpkin, corn, and butternut squash, are full of beta-carotene and vitamins A and C. Green foods, including lettuce and asparagus, are often filled with fiber and contains sulfurous compounds that offer protective benefits against cancer and macular degeneration. Blues and purples – purple cabbage, blueberries, etc. – are dense in nutrition and may improve urinary tract health. Tomatoes, radishes, and chili peppers fall into the red food category and contain lycopene. Cauliflower, onions, and garlic – white foods – have pre- and probiotic properties and offer anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits for the body. Read more about the different benefits of each color at BodyEcology.com.

Don’t focus on food

No matter what time of year it is, when people get together, food tends to be the focus. But it should not be. While eating is certainly an important part of your day, avoid using food as the centerpiece of your activities. If you focus on fun, you won’t have to sacrifice your health to have a good time. Plan your summer get-togethers after lunch and offer an assortment of healthy and refreshing appetizers instead of a full spread. Likewise, family dinners should prioritize togetherness. Plan an activity, such as a family game of badminton or walk around the neighborhood, for after your meal so you won’t be tempted to sit around the table for seconds.

Eat a few treats

One of the worst things you can do when you’re trying to stay on track – or teach kids healthy eating habits – is to completely deprive yourself and your family of the occasional indulgence. You won’t wreck your diet by hosting a dessert night once a week, and it’s perfectly okay to sneak a burger at a backyard barbecue. By limiting – but not eliminating – these types of “sometimes” foods, you will help your children develop a healthy relationship with food.

Get help

If you’re not comfortable in the kitchen, consider taking a cooking class. The University of North Carolina notes that cooking classes will not only encourage you to try new ingredients, but will also help you stay organized, which will go a long way toward creating a healthy culinary experience for your family.

Most importantly, have fun. Your goal is to create a positive relationship with food for yourself and your family, and nothing does that better than making memories while you plan and prep.

Post contributed by Dylan Foster at healthwellwise.com

How Seniors Can Get Their Best Sleep

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As we age and our bodies begin to show signs of slowing down the systems within our body such as the nervous and immune systems take longer to recover putting us at a higher risk for injury and illness. As a senior, a good night’s sleep allows our body to improve memory and focus which wards off dementia as well as gives our immune systems plenty of time to repair damage, recover from injury, and fight disease.

But sleep isn’t just about staying in bed with our eyes closed for eight to ten hours a night. Quality sleep involves two stages of sleep that our body cycles through multiple times each night: Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM). In NREM sleep your brain waves dramatically slow down allowing the heart, blood vessels, and muscle tissue to repair. The longer you are in NREM sleep the better you will feel when you wake up. Additionally, REM sleep is beneficial in that it helps promote brain activity, learning, and creativity through dreams.

How seniors can get better sleep

Getting better sleep as a senior may not be as hard as you think, but it does take a little action on your part. Here are three tips that will not only help you get a better night’s sleep but will also aid in providing overall health as we age.

Tip 1: Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Developing healthy lifestyle habits provides your body the strength and nutrition you need to not only function during the day, but also recover at night. Eating small healthy meals and staying active throughout the day are great ways to start. But, understanding what is going to prevent you from falling asleep at a reasonable hour is just important. That means not using caffeine within six hours of going to bed and avoiding late-afternoon naps which may be rejuvenating, but also make it difficult to fall asleep when you need it most.

Tip 2: Get more comfortable

One of the most frequently dismissed ways to get a good night’s rest is to find a comfortable mattress that works for you. Did you know that a poor mattress is one of the leading causes of lower back pain? While you may have been sleeping on the same type of mattress for decades, you may not have been sleeping on a mattress that is best for you. A comfortable mattress will help to alleviate pain, reduce uncomfortable pressure, and will be comfortable enough to help you sleep through the night.

Tip 3: Keep up a consistent routine

Our bodies are designed to learn from routine. So, when we go to sleep and wake-up at the same time each day you are helping your body develop a consistent circadian rhythm that trains your body to follow the same sleep cycle each night. Another way to help build consistency at night is to develop a wind-down routine that incorporates a relaxing, non-stimulating, yet enjoyable activity such as reading, knitting, listening to music, or meditation.

Ashley Little is part of the editorial team at Mattress Advisor, a site dedicated to helping others get their best night’s sleep each night.

How Caregivers and Seniors Can Benefit From Daily Yoga and Meditation

Photo: Courtesy of Unsplash

Sometimes, we get so stressed out that we forget to breathe. Caregivers tend to get so wrapped up in their duties that they neglect to take time for even basic self-care. If you are a senior living with a debilitating illness or injury, you may also feel this way. This is why yoga and meditation can be so enriching for both groups. So, if you are feeling frazzled and need some extra self-care in your life, these simple practices may be right for you. Not entirely convinced? Here are some reasons to fold these helpful habits into your daily routine.

Yoga and Meditation Can Be Learned at Home

When you think of yoga and meditation, you may think of large classes taught by experienced instructors. It is true that practicing with others can have many benefits, but you don’t necessarily need to go to a class to learn how to relieve your stress with these practices. You can set up a home workout area that can also serve as your meditation/yoga zone. Make sure you have some soft exercise mats to cover hard floors or consider having a softer floor installed. While many meditation room guides suggest low lighting, seniors would do better with lighting that allows them to see where they are moving. Need some help getting started? Check out online tutorials and apps that will make your home practice so much easier.

Less Stress Will Make Your Practice More Meaningful

Mediation and yoga can definitely help you release tension. However, if your duties as a caregiver have you overly tense, then you may find it hard to even get started. So, before you begin your wellness journey, consider treating yourself to some serious self-care. Plan an at-home spa session to help your body and mind relax. Whip up a DIY face treatment, massage your muscles, and take some time to truly unwind. A cup of calming tea can help seal in all that self-care and can also fight inflammation. To really pull your spa day together, compile a playlist of relaxing spa or meditation music. You can use this playlist later as you work through your first breathes and really get into your new practices.

Even Gentle Exercise Can Provide Stress Relief

Did you know that exercise affects your brain? Regular exercise routines can help seniors and caregivers fight feelings of depression and anxiety. Most studies suggest more intense workouts to maximize your endorphin release, but a gentle workout may suit you better. Plus, you can still get the same mood boost if you choose the right exercise. Since caregivers are at a higher risk of depression and burnout, practicing stretching poses in yoga can be especially beneficial. Headstands may be out of the question for beginners, but that’s okay! You can use variations of tree pose or child’s pose to help your body release any built up stress. What matters most is that you find a relaxing way to get moving a few times a week. That’s why yoga is a good idea.

Purposed Breathing Should Always Be Your Focus

Yoga can certainly be an effective physical workout. The gentle movements are perfect for building balance, as well as developing a little muscle tone. The true benefits of these ancient practices, however, rest in your ability to focus on your breath. Controlling your breath is the simplest way to encourage your body to release tension and stress. For this reason, it may be best to master your breathing before you begin your actual practices. Try this short exercise to learn how to count your breaths and calm your body. You can use it at night to relax before bed or in the morning to set a positive tone for your day.

The beauty of yoga and meditation for caregivers and seniors extends beyond the physical. These self-care habits are so helpful because they can quickly melt away any excess stress. Less stress can add up to more quality of life. So, think about practicing yoga and meditation for your mind, your spirit, and lastly, your body.

Post contributed by Dana Brown at HealthConditions.Info
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Video Chat and Other Ways to Watch Out for a Loved One from a Distance

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You can’t always be there when you’re needed, but you can help your senior loved one from anywhere. Whether they choose to live independently or you can’t uproot your family, the following tips can give you some eyes on the ground and ensure you are always in the loop regarding your elderly parents’ care.

Get to Know Their Healthcare Plan

The right healthcare plan can mean the difference between health and hardships. There’s a good chance your elderly loved one is already on Medicare. Even if this is the case, it still pays to review their coverage every year. It’s best to be prepared when you contact a Medicare agent. Have your loved one’s Medicare card and any Medicare Advantage plan identifier or prescription drug coverage plan handy, if applicable. Also, make a complete list of their medications, including any over-the-counter medicines they take.

Schedule Regular In-Person Visits

Depending on how far away you live, it may be difficult to break away for in-person visits. However, it’s necessary at least a few times each year — more when their health begins to deteriorate. If you’re driving, make sure to sleep well in the two or three nights prior to your road trip. Plan plenty of stops and bring along books, games, and puzzles for your youngest passengers. Nationwide offers more tips on planning a successful road trip.

If you plan to fly, book these trips well and in advance and, if possible, stick with the same airline so that you can enjoy reward perks. You can double your benefits by choosing a credit card that also allows you to collect points and cash back on travel and other expenses.

 Screen Potential Helpers Before the Need Arises

If your loved one plans to live alone for as long as possible, they’ll need help at some point. A medical or non-medical caregiver is an asset to your family and to the well-being of your senior in need. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know exactly who to trust, and elder abuse is a problem that runs rampant throughout the United States. Your best bet is to create a list of potential caregivers and then perform a background check on each. Caregiverlist explains this cost between $8 and $18 each, which is a small price to pay for peace of mind. Another important service for your elderly loved one is transportation. After55 notes that Uber and Lyft now provide transportation services for seniors. Know what’s available in their area so you aren’t scrambling to find them a ride to the doctor’s office when they are unable to get themselves there.

 Add modifications that enhance their safety

Perform a room-by-room assessment of your loved one’s home. This will give you an opportunity to identify and secure potential home modifications, such as wider doorways or enhanced lighting, that can help your family member stay safe. Other additions that can contribute to their well-being include senior-friendly video calling devices, a remote-access home security system, and a wearable medical alert station, which connects with their home telephone and allows them to receive help with the push of a button. Many also provide fall detection and medication reminders.

Build a Network

Finally, but perhaps most importantly, establish a network of people who can be your eyes, ears, and hands when you can’t. Spend a day at your parent’s home following them as they go about their daily routine. This gives you a chance to see who they regularly interact with. You can contact these people and ask if they would be willing to contact you if anything seems off.

When you want to be there but you physically can’t make that happen every day, minor home modifications, other friends and family, and technology can help you stay in control of your loved one’s health and well-being.

Post contributed by Claire Wentz at CaringFromAfar.com

Self Care Tips For New Caregivers: How To Focus On Your Own Needs

Photo via Pixabay by Sabinevanerp

Photo via Pixabay by Sabinevanerp

Working as a caregiver is one of the hardest jobs there is, and many people don’t get paid for it, as they’re simply taking care of a loved one who needs daily assistance. Not only is it physically taxing, it can also be mentally and emotionally exhausting, especially if the patient is someone you love. It’s never easy to watch a loved one suffer through pain or distress, but it can be difficult to focus on your own needs when your patient needs so much.

Making sure you are taking care of your mental health and physical well-being are essential to providing the best care.  It’s nearly impossible to be at your best for your patient when you’re tired or stressed. If you are in this state, you won’t be of much help to them no matter how hard you try. Think of ways you can reduce stress and anxiety at home and make self-care a priority; exercise daily, eat a well-balanced diet, get enough sleep, and look for healthy habits that will keep you feeling good.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to focus on yourself when you’re a caregiver.

Reduce stress

Just about everyone has some form of stress in their lives, but some handle it better than others. Learning how to reduce stress — and how to cope with it when it comes along — will help boost your mood and your ability to face the difficult challenges that each day brings. You can start by getting organized; this will ensure that you’re not rushing in the mornings, especially if you have children. Getting a handle on your finances will also help, as will creating a budget.

Get good sleep

Exhaustion can be quick to set in when you’re taking care of someone else, so it’s imperative to get good quality sleep. This means creating a relaxing place to rest with light-blocking curtains and making sure the temperature is just right. Investing in the right bedding and mattress is also essential, especially if your caregiving job is hard on your back. Making sure you get the right amount of sleep, as well as the right quality, will help you stay on top of all your responsibilities with renewed stamina.

Eat well

The things you eat and drink can have a profound effect on the way you feel. Many people tend to gravitate toward comfort foods when they’re stressed or tired, so it’s important to keep healthy items around the house, including easy-to-grab snacks. Granola bars, yogurt, low-fat string cheese, nuts, and fruit are some of the best options. You can also prepare well-balanced meals ahead of time and heat them up when you’re ready for them. This will help you avoid the fast-food trap on nights when you’re tired or busy.

Make time for yourself

If you work long days and find that you don’t have much time to do the things you enjoy, it’s important to rearrange some things so you have some downtime. Even if it’s just half an hour at the end of the day to read a book or watch your favorite television show, spending time doing something you really want to do will help you relax and boost your mental health at the same time. Consider getting up fifteen minutes earlier, or use your lunch break to take some time for meditation.

Caring for yourself when you’re in charge of taking care of someone else can be difficult to get used to, so it’s important to start small. Remember that your health and well-being affects your patient as well, because it’s hard to do a good job when you’re tired or stressed.

About the Author

June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.

Elder Fraud: How to Keep Your Family Safe

By: Dr. Stacey Wood, Ph.D.

Financial elder abuse is an epidemic in America, and today’s technology makes it easy for fraudsters to take their schemes global. Scammers can call or email from anywhere in the world, making it more difficult to trace the funds after a con artist disappears. According to reports, fraudsters take $37-billion every year from older adults in the United States.

Many scammers play on people’s drive for human connection. Whether the scams begin on social media, through telephone calls, from an email, or even in person, senior citizens are often in a position to be more vulnerable to fraudsters.

Elders don’t need to have experienced cognitive decline to be targeted. A recent loss, like a death in the family or a divorce, can make them more vulnerable. Odds of being scammed more than double during difficult life circumstances and those who are lonely or isolated may be more likely to fall for a romance scam or similar confidence trick.

People who are in a troubling financial situation, who are eager for a bargain, or enthusiastic about risk-taking can also be targeted for get-rich-quick schemes.

There are a number of different types of scams that target senior citizens. Health scams seek out seniors’ private Medicare information to submit false billing for reimbursement. Other medical scammers sell fake prescription drugs at cheap prices. This is a scam that can put seniors’ health and lives at immediate risk.

People who have lost a loved one are also targeted for funeral scams. Fraudsters call grieving people and claim that their loved one had a debt that must be paid. A variety of phone scams involve financial offers, investment opportunities, or claims of overdue taxes.

Many fraudsters take advantage of seniors who are less technically savvy or aware of social media norms. Internet schemes include romance scams over social media, fake anti-virus software used to extort money, or phishing schemes to gather online banking information.

Mortgage and investment schemes seek to divert seniors’ wealth to a con artist, while sweepstakes scams inform seniors that they have “won” prizes, but they must pay to receive their winnings. There is a multitude of schemes that target older Americans, and being aware of the wide range can help people avoid financial catastrophe.

As a caregiver, you may notice signs that something is wrong with your loved one’s finances. One common sign that a person has become a fraud victim is a sudden change in financial habits.

A frugal person may suddenly withdraw large sums of money but have little to show for it. An older adult with a healthy bank account may suddenly be running up debts or receiving collection calls. Others may suddenly discuss a new friend in their lives, often overseas and connected via social media.

Unfortunately, many victims experience fear and shame. They don’t want to admit to being victims, as they fear it will make them look incompetent. However, those understandable emotions can be a barrier to taking action to prosecute those responsible and potentially recover lost funds.

You can help the elders in your life avoid fraud. Open conversations about new friends or love interests can help shed light on potential scammers. Discuss social media use, as well as its pros and cons. In addition, advise loved ones to get a copy of their credit report each year to ensure accuracy.

Seniors can protect themselves by visiting financial advisors, lawyers, and their bank branch. Bank fraud personnel are trained to spot scams, so developing a trusting relationship with the local bank helps seniors protect themselves. Advise loved one to always request financial offers in writing and take time to consider before sending money, especially via untraceable methods like wire transfers or Western Union.

If you suspect that an elder in your life is a fraud victim, you can help by reaching out. A compassionate, non-judgmental approach can help to break the silence imposed by fear and shame. Loved ones can work together to support their family member and unravel the truth about a fraudster.

You can also take action by reporting the scheme to their bank; fraud departments are motivated to stop these schemes that cost banks millions. The authorities can also help. Adult Protective Services in your area is charged with protecting vulnerable adults. The local police also have a responsibility to investigate fraud, which is a serious criminal offense.

As a caregiver, your participation matters. In fact, your active involvement in a senior’s life helps fight fraud, because he/she will be less vulnerable to the emotional manipulation used in scams.


Dr. Stacey Wood, Ph.D., is a forensic neuropsychologist and one of the nation’s leading Dr. Stacey Woodexperts on financial elder abuse and fraud. She is the Molly Mason Jones Professor of Psychology at Scripps College and a licensed clinical psychologist in California. As one of the nation’s leading experts in the areas of forensic neuropsychology and geropsychology, Dr. Wood has vast experience as an expert witness in California and nationwide.

5 Ways You Can Plan for Long-Term Care Costs and Needs

Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

Photo: Courtesy of Unsplash

As we grow older, our health care costs tend to get a bit higher. When you or a loved one needs help from a nursing home or assisted living facility, the costs can be overwhelming. Here are a few ways you can offset those expenses and plan for long-term care before you even need it.

 Figure Out Whether Care Will Be Needed

When you are planning ahead for your health care, it helps to know whether long-term care may be needed. Statistics show the majority of seniors will need some sort of extended care at some point in their lives. Family history can have a lot to do with your need for care, especially if there is a history of Alzheimer’s disease on your mother’s side of the family. Falls can also cause seniors to need long-term assistance, so try to take steps to help yourself or loved ones age in place safely and avoid fall-related injuries. Finally, take care of your health by eating a clean diet and exercising on a regular basis.

 Use Medicare to Your Advantage

Medicare is a wonderful tool for seniors to rely on when it comes to their medical needs. But if you or a family member ends up needing long-term care, basic Medicare may not yet help you when it comes to covering the costs. The good news is, however, that there are several supplemental Medicare Advantage plans that can offer more help with prescriptions, vision care, and dental care, and by saving on these expenses, you can tuck more funds away to provide long-term care. if you are currently eligible for Medicare or are nearing the age of eligibility, it’s important to get a better understanding of how to navigate some of the vital Medicare open enrollment dates, so read up on those first and plan ahead of time.

Understand Long-Term Care Insurance

If you are only planning for long-term care needs, then you may want to look into information about long-term care insurance. Getting this sort of supplemental coverage can be a bit expensive, but it can give you peace of mind if you are worried about you or a loved one needing care. Long-term care insurance typically costs less if you are younger and in good health, so start planning for this coverage option early to get the best deal. Otherwise, your rates will go up as you get older, particularly if your health begins to decline.

Know How to Use Benefits and Other Insurance

For adults who have served in the military, long-term care costs may be covered by the benefits provided by the VA. Eligible veterans and spouses can cover their care costs through pensions and possibly by adding the Aid and Attendance benefit. You may also be able to use life insurance policies to cover care costs as well. Many policies allow you to cash out or sell your life insurance to get the cash you need. This option can come in handy when the need for care comes up suddenly.

 Look Into Home Equity Options

Another way to pay for unexpected expenses associated with long-term care is to use the equity built into a home. If you or your loved one will make a permanent move, the most beneficial option may be to sell it and use profits to pay for care. For individuals who need to remain in their homes, there are still viable options to get the extra funds they need. You can take out a home equity loan or look into a reverse mortgage. Reverse mortgages come with the added benefit of not having to make monthly payments, but the house will be turned over to the lender when the owner passes away.

If you or a family member is in need of long-term care, the last thing you want to think about is how to pay for it. Finding quality care should be your top priority. By planning for costs now, you can focus on getting the care you need without worrying about how to pay for it.

Post contributed by Dana Brown at HealthConditions.Info
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