Scamming Seniors

If you want to get my blood boiling, you let me hear about someone trying to scam an elderly person.  Now you may be thinking, seriously who does that?  Case in point, was the day one of my former residents came knocking on my office door (with his phone in hand) telling me that he was just informed that he was going to be arrested for an unpaid ticket.  Immediately my senses went into “Mama Protective Mode” and I asked could I speak to the person on the phone.  The threatening caller who had previously told my resident that “he would not hang up and that he would be happy to hold for his credit card or checking account information to take care of the outstanding debt” naturally had decided to hang up when I unmuted the phone and said, “Hello this is the Administrator, can I help you”?  Now this was not before rattling my resident into thinking that this person was legit.  Mind you, this resident informed me that he had NEVER received a traffic ticket in his life.  As expected, the number that showed up on the caller ID was neither able to be reached or traced.  I promptly called the local authorities to alert them of the call as the person calling claimed to be from our local sheriff’s department.  Sadly, they informed me that I was not the first or even the fifth person who had called in that day.  I saw an article printed in our local paper the next day notifying locals to be aware of the scam.  You may think that this is just something that happens in larger areas or that it won’t happen to you or your elderly loved ones.  Well let me assure you, it is a very REAL threat and that if it hasn’t happened yet, it more than likely will.

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The True Link Report on Elder Financial Abuse 2015, reveals “that seniors lose $36.48 billion each year to elder financial abuse — more than twelve times what was previously reported. It goes on to say that the highest proportion of these losses — to the tune of $16.99 billion a year — comes from deceptive but technically legal tactics designed to specifically take advantage of older Americans.”  So thieves are finding more and more ways to target seniors and they are crooked enough to figure out ways to get away with it.  So what can you do?

 

The first thing is to let someone know if you have been a target!

As the Administrator at my community, I announced (the day of the aforementioned call) as everyone gathered for lunch to please be aware of the threat of SCAMS.  The resident whom I wasn’t going to identify, chimed in to let everyone know what had happened to him.  He said that he wanted them all to be aware.  He told the other residents that he knew something was up when the caller asked for sensitive information and that he knew better than to do that.  He said he asked “the crook” to hold on the line and that was when he muted the call and came to let me know what was going on.  So while things turned out okay in this situation, I think that the other important take away for the day, was that we talked about it so that folks had their radars ready!

 

Be Radar Ready!

Knowledge is power!  Don’t assume that just because YOU know that something sounds

fishy, that others will assume the same.  Often times our older generation was raised to be polite and trusting.  Sadly, these are traits that crooks prey upon.  The Better Business Bureau offers these tips to help protect seniors from scam-logoscam artists and fraud against elders:

  • Warn against the dangers of giving out personal banking information, credit card numbers or social security numbers to someone who has called. Popular scams include promising information on new health miracle product, a charitable donation, or confirmation of a sweepstakes.
  • If someone calls from a “government agency” requesting money, ask for a certified letter on an official letterhead.
  • If a salesperson will not provide written information about his or her company–including the company’s name, address and telephone, do business with someone else.
  • Never make an “on-the-spot” decision. If the person says you have to take the offer immediately or you will miss the opportunity, it is likely a scam. Legitimate companies do not pressure people to act without taking the time to look into the deal.
  • Avoid investments that promise huge profits with no risk. “High-return” investments are not guaranteed and legitimate companies will tell consumers about possible risks involved.
  • Put phone numbers on the National Do Not Call registry by phoning 1 (888) 382-1222 or visiting http://www.donotcall.gov (this will help to limit phone calls from telemarketers.)

Sadly, we live in a day and age where scammers are doing anything they can to rip off anyone they can.  No one demographic is exempt.  Arming our seniors with the valuable information to protect themselves from these predators can help them avoid becoming another senior scam statistic.

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Don’t Go Viral

I have to admit I was one of them.  You know the ones that boasted they had NEVER had the flu shot.  Now we would probably have to call my Mom to fact check me on this.  But to date, I have NEVER had the flu either.  But my mind was completely changed on the flu shot in 2010.  Why you ask?  Well, my entire household with the exception of yours truly got hit hard by the nasty flu bug.  How did I dodge the bullet?  Well, that was the first year that I took the shot as recommended by my boss since I had just started working in an assisted living.  The thought of what it meant to get an elderly person sick really made me realize I must do my part.  AND… I believe wholeheartedly the flu shot kept me WELL!!  My family was bedridden for days and I never had a sniffle.  With this week (October 16-22, 2016) being Infection Control Week, I thought it would be a great time to give a few tips to remember in reference to visiting assisted living communities during flu season.

When I missed the flu by getting the flu shot that made me and my family believers in the flu shot.  I have heard nearly every excuse in the book about why folks don’t want to get it.  But hear me out.  Senior citizens have reduced immune systems so they can’t mess around.  Actually, we have already had our flu shot clinic in our community.  The reason being is TIP NUMBER ONE:

  1. According to the CDC getting an annual flu vaccine is the first and best way to protect yourself and your family from the flu.

The BEST way people!  So all those skeptics need to realize that the flu shot is your best defense.

The CDC goes on to say that flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from the flu, including older people, very young children, pregnant women and people with certain health conditions who are more vulnerable to serious flu complications.

Another important thing to keep in mind during flu season is if you are sick, please avoid visiting assisted living communities.  Sure we want visitors…but sickness that can be passed on is never a welcome guest.  Please come back when you are well!  We would love to see you then.  Honestly, the flu can be life threatening to seniors.  Sure, it’s no picnic for anyone.  But for seniors, it can be quite serious!  So remember TIP NUMBER TWO:

  1. If you have any flu-like symptoms, please take care of your health and come back to visit senior communities when you are well.   

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Also, it is extremely important in the infection control process to WASH YOUR HANDS!  Listen Mama was right when she told you to keep your hands clean and keep them to yourself!  During flu season I have even observed folks at church exchange a friendly hello instead of a handshake.  Poor manners…NO!  Good hygiene. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that between 50 and 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations every year are attributed to seniors and the over-65 demographic accounts for 90 percent of flu-related deaths annually.  So it is extremely important to do your part in the infection control process.  So follow TIP NUMBER THREE:

  1. Keep hands clean, avoid touching your face and mouth and also cover that cough with a tissue.

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The CDC gives these infection control suggestions.  “Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.  Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.”  Following these tips will help better protect you and your loved ones during this flu season.  When it comes to the flu, this is definitely not an area where we want to go viral.

For more information, visit http://www.flu.gov

What Do I Look For When Choosing An Assisted Living For My Mom?

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The process of finding an assisted living environment for your Mom usually begins when you become concerned that your Mom isn’t safe at home alone. This is often an emotional decision and for many adult children, it’s an area where they have little experience or in many cases, really don’t know where or how to start a search.

One first step is to make a list of the areas where your Mom may need help to stay as independent as possible.  Some common areas are help with medications, help bathing or getting dressed, or assistance with ambulation.  Perhaps your Mom isn’t as involved in social activities as she used to be.  Some of our parents aren’t eating well or are skipping meals.

Once you have your list of areas where your Mom needs extra help, explore what senior living options are available in your area.  The Internet is a great place to start and most assisted living communities have websites with information on services offered, apartment sizes and activities and outings offered by the community.

When you see a community that looks like a match for your Mom, call and schedule a visit.  When visiting an assisted living community, be keenly aware of your first impressions.  Is the staff happy and engaged with the seniors who live there?  Are the senior adults happy and engaged in fun social activities?  Are the senior adults appropriately groomed and attired?  Ask the staff how long they have worked at the community; ask the senior adults how they like living there.  Try to schedule your visit during or near meal times.  How does the food look?  Ask the staff how they handle senior food preferences.  Is there assistance with transportation for physician appointments and group outings?  What is the visitor policy; can you drop in unannounced at any time you like?  Can your Mom bring her pet?

If you initial impression is positive, drop back in unannounced.  How do things look when no one knows you are dropping in?  It’s often good to do this late in the day and will give you a better picture of what level of staff is available after traditional “business hours”.  If this visit is positive, schedule a time for your Mom to come to the community and spend a few hours, perhaps eating a meal with the other senior adults and getting a chance to meet some of her potential new neighbors.

When starting your search, identify what services and supports your Mom needs first and then look for a welcoming, safe community that will meet those needs.  Again, your first impressions are important and often key to a successful transition for your Mom.

For more information about assisted living, visit us at GreatOaksManagement.com.

How Will I Know When It’s Time For Mom To Move To Assisted Living?

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As the adult child of senior parents, we often find our roles reversed as we try to help our parents navigate the challenges of getting older.  We find ourselves accompanying them to physician appointments, researching chronic health problems on line and worrying about our parents.  Often we reach a point where we become concerned about our parents safety in living alone and we just aren’t sure what the next step is.  How will I know when it’s time for my Mom to leave her home and move into assisted living?

We usually begin asking ourselves this question when we discover our Mom isn’t able to manage some part of her life in the same way she did previously.  It might be that she isn’t eating well, forgetting to take her medications, has fallen at home, or is just lonely living alone.  Whatever the issue that causes us to become concerned, there is an objective test that we can use to determine if it’s time to make the move.  Below is a quick series of questions to ask yourself (or your Mom) to help make that determination:

YES   NO    Am I bored and lonely at times?

YES   NO    Does my social life revolve around the TV?

YES   NO    Is my circle of friends shrinking?

YES   NO    Could I use more exercise?

YES   NO    Is home maintenance a burden?

YES   NO    Do I avoid driving at night or should I stop driving?

YES   NO    Are housekeeping chores not as easy as they used to be?

YES   NO    Am I caring for a spouse and it’s wearing me out?

YES   NO    Am I eating poorly? Have my eating habits changed?

YES   NO    Am I eating alone?

YES   NO    Do I worry about needing help and not getting it in time?

YES   NO    Do I want to enjoy better health?

YES   NO    Am I relying on friends and family to do things for me?

YES   NO     Is it creating a burden for them?

YES   NO     Do I sometimes forget to take my medication?

If you or your Mom answered Yes to any of the questions above, it may be time to start looking at senior living options, especially assisted living.  While it is stressful to bring up this topic, getting your Mom in a safe place where she can thrive will make your relationship better.  Helping your Mom see that she isn’t giving up her independence, she is actually moving to a place where she can be more independent because she will have extra supports to help her.  Almost 100% of senior adults moving into assisted living comment within the first week “I wish I’d done this sooner”!

For more information, please visit us at GreatOaksManagement.com.

The Importance of Socialization and How It Affects Brain Health

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It’s a good practice to remind us of that there is always something we can do to keep our brain healthy.  While we all read lots of information about eating right and exercising as ways to stay physically healthy, several recent research studies have shown a strong correlation between social interaction and a healthy brain in senior adults.  The same studies showed that social isolation and limited contacts with others increased the likelihood of both poor physical health and the development of dementia in senior adults.  A summary of some of the findings are:

  • Social relationships are consistently associated with bio-markers of good health.
  • Positive indicators of social well-being may be associated with lower levels of interleukin-6 in otherwise healthy people. Interleukin-6 is an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer.
  • Some grandparents feel that caring for their grandchildren makes them healthier and more active. They experience a strong emotional bond and often lead a more active lifestyle, eat healthier meals, and may even reduce or stop smoking.
  • Social isolation constitutes a major risk factor for morbidity and mortality, especially in older adults.
  • Loneliness may have a physical as well as an emotional impact. For example, people who are lonely frequently have elevated systolic blood pressure.

Worried about your parents?  Look for senior centers in the area where you parents live.  Senior centers offer daily social opportunities for senior adults and often provide assistance with transportation in rural areas.  Check out the Church your parents attend.  Many Churches have Senior Adult groups which offer at least a monthly social interaction opportunity.

If your parents like to read, check out the local Library web site.  Many local Libraries have book clubs which meet weekly and share their thoughts on the latest books.  This kind of activity will not only offer a social interaction opportunity, it will also foster a favorite hobby.  Bring the Grand-kids to visit.  Research shows that interacting with children improves the overall health of senior adults.  If the Grand-kids are far away, check out local day care’s for an opportunity for your parents to drop in occasionally to read a book to the children there.

The important thing is don’t give up.  Senior parents are often reluctant to venture out and try new things.  Focusing on how this will help them with their memory and brain health just may be the ticket to getting them involved.

When is it time for Mom to stop driving?

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We all remember how we felt when we got our driver’s license as a teenager, that feeling of “being a grownup”, that sense of independence.  Becoming a licensed driver is the first taste of independence that most experience.  Conversely, when is it time to stop driving?  This question is a difficult one as most of us would see this as a serious loss of independence.  The question looms even larger when the driver is our parent.

Not being able to drive raises practical questions; “how will Mom get to her physician appointments or the grocery store”?  It can also represent another loss at a time of life already buffeted by major losses — of independence, health, and lifelong friends and loved ones.  For practical and emotional reasons, then, giving up driving is a transition that everyone involved wishes to put off as long as possible. It’s no wonder that many adult children and spouses say that taking away the car keys was among the hardest things they ever had to do.  Still, if you are concerned about your Mom and her ability to drive, it’s important not to ignore it.

Below are some questions to ask to help you decide if it’s time for your Mom to stop driving:

  1. Take a drive with your Mom and observe her driving skills. Does she seem anxious; does she lean forward in the seat and appear worried?
  2. Pay attention to see if she is reluctant to drive. Does driving make her nervous or uncomfortable?
  3. Watch for slowed response time when driving.
  4. Notice her awareness of the driving environment. Does she tailgate; does she drift into another lane?
  5. When she’s not with you, walk around her car and look for signs of damage.
  6. If you’ve noticed some problems with driving, ask her if she has gotten any tickets or if her car insurance rates have gone up.
  7. Check with her trusted friends and neighbors. They may not feel comfortable reaching out to you, but if you approach them and they have concerns, they will likely tell you what the issues are.
  8. Does your Mom have health problems that cause weakness or tremors? Does she have problems with vision loss due to glaucoma or macular degeneration?  Does she have hearing loss that may make it hard for her to notice horns or emergency vehicle sirens?

If you notice problems with any of the items listed above, it’s time to sit down and talk to your Mom about what you see.  Expect that Mom will have objections and try to minimize any of the problems you notice.  Remember, this is an issue that will make Mom feel like she is losing her independence.  Be prepared for a long discussion and keep reiterating your concern for her safety.  Also be prepared to address how she can access transportation for basic activities of daily living like trips to the grocery, physician, Church or other events.  It may take several conversations, but be persistent.  In the end, your primary concern if her safety.

Healthy Eating

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It’s no secret that eating healthy is probably a great life choice to make, no matter your age.  But did you know that age does become a factor when selecting which healthy foods are consumed?  Sodium, added sugars, and solid fats become items that need to be monitored more closely as we get older.  You might be asking “Well then what should I be eating?”.  That is what we are going to talk about today!

Nutrients to Know

There are five main food types that the body needs to stay healthy: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals, and water.

  • Proteins – Often called the building blocks of the body, good proteins include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Carbohydrates – These are broken into two categories: Simple and Complex. Simple carbs include fruits, vegetables, and milk products as well as honey and sugar. Complex carbs are in breads, cereals, pasta, rice, beans, peas, potatoes, and corn.
  • Fats – These are broken down into four groups: Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated, Saturated, and Trans fats.  Monounsaturated fats are in canola, olive, peanut, and safflower oils as well as avocados, peanut butter, and some nuts/seeds. Polyunsaturated fats are found in corn, soybean, and flaxseed oil as well as in fatty fish, walnuts, and some seeds. Saturated fats are found in red meat, milk products like butter, palm oil, and coconut oil.  Regular cheese, pizza, and grain or dairy based desserts are also a souce.  Trans fats are found in stick margarine and vegetable shortening.
  • Vitamins – These help the body grow as well as regulate it.  There are 13 vitamins: C, A, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12, and folate). These can be found in vitamins/vitamin supplements as well as in some foods.
  • Minerals – These help the body function.  Some important minerals include iodine, flouride, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium. Eating a varied diet is the best way to ensure a healthy mineral intake.
  • Water – Seems like a no-brainer, right?  You would be surprised how often health problems can be traced back to dehydration.  Research indicates that seniors are far more likely to experience adverse health effects from insufficient levels of fluid than younger adults. On average, seniors have 10% less fluid in their bodies compared to younger adults.  To read more about staying hydrated, check out our blog post on that topic here!

Here we gave you just a small overview of ways to eat healthier as you age.  If you want to learn more, visit the National Institute on Aging.

For more information on our company Great Oaks Management and senior living communites, visit us at www.greatoaksmanagement.com.

Keeping Warm During the Coming Months

Winter is Coming!

As the days grow shorter the weather follows suit.  Temperatures are beginning to drop, especially at night.  It is important to remember to take precautions to stay warm no matter your age, but these upcoming months can be particularly hard on Seniors.  With that in mind, here are some tips to ensure the cold of winter does not find its way inside.

Tips to Stay Warm:

  • Keep the thermostat at or above 68 degrees.
  • If you venture outside, remember to take a hat, gloves, and a scarf.
  • On cold days dress warm, even if you plan on being inside.  Layer appropriately. You can always take layers off, but it will be hard to add any layers if you have left the house already.
  • Stay active even if you cannot make it oustide.
  • If you live alone, have someone check up on you occasionally.
  • Loose layers are the key to dressing up for chilly days spent outside.
  • Do not stay out in the cold for too long.
  • If you have health problems that make it hard to stay warm, consult a doctor.

For more information on staying warm, be sure to check out this brochure from the National Institute on Aging.

For more information on Senior Care, visit our site GreatOaksMangement.com.

Laughter is Important

No matter your age, language, physical, or mental capabilities one thing is certain:  Laughter transcends all barriers.  It is universally shared among everyone.  If someone is laughing, it is understood that something must be funny to the person laughing and we all want in on the fun!  Even the most uptight people chuckle every now and then.  But laughter does more than provide an escape for the moment; it also has health benefits as well.

What Happens When I Laugh?

There are a number of positve responses that are triggered by laughter:

  • Your entire body relaxes, which relieves muscle tension and stress
  • Cortisol (stress horomone) levels drop, minimizing pain and inflammation throughout the entire body.
  • Endorphins are released.  Endorphins are a natural substances that makes you feel happy and content.  They have also been proven to reduce the perception of physical pain.
  • Blood Pressure levels are reduced and heart rate, blood circulation, and oxygen intake are all increased.
  • Laughter releases T-Cells and salivary immunoglobin A which both stimulate the immune system.
  • Improves overall sense of well-being
  • Stimulates both sides of the brain, which enhances learning.
  • It reduces psychological stress, which keeps the brain alert and allows for the retention of more information.

So rememember to smile today!  Make someone laugh or find some time in the day to seek out something that makes you chuckle.  It does not matter how old you are, you are never too old to laugh!  So go look for humor everyday and find something to laugh about. Remember, it’s good for you!

More Information:

GreatOaksManagement.com

 The Connection between Laughter, Humor, and Good Health.

Bob Hope Jokes and Humor

Everyday Wisdom