Helping Seniors Avoid Holiday Scams

Keep your money safe from scams this holiday season.
Image via Wikimedia commons

This holiday season, help your loved one (or yourself) watch out for scams. Scammers often target seniors during the holiday season, since it is a time when people are frequently spending money on gifts. These tips from FBI.gov will help you protect yourself- and your money!

There are a few reasons why seniors are more likely to be the targets of scams:

  • Senior citizens are most likely to have savings, own their home, or have good credit.
  • It is likely they were raised to be polite and trusting, traits which con artists can easily exploit.
  • Seniors are less likely to report scams due to shame, or not knowing who to report to.
  • The effect of age on memory means that the elderly may be less able to supply enough detailed information when reporting to investigators.
  • Senior citizens may be more interested in products promising benefits such as increased cognitive function or anti-cancer properties.

There are a few different types of fraud that seniors may encounter. Healthcare or health insurance fraud may involve scammers offering “free” products or lab tests that are then charged to the victim’s insurance or Medicare.

A few ways to avoid these scams:

  • Never sign blank insurance forms or give your provider full authorization to bill for services.
  • Avoid doing business with salespeople, either on the phone or in person, who offer free equipment or tests.
  • Do not give out your Medicare information to anyone other than those providing medical services.

Telemarketing scams are also common. Scammers will offer prizes, discounted health care products and vacation deals over the phone. They will often pressure the victim by claiming the offer is only good for a short time, or insist on the victim sending a check or money order before they can fully consider the offer.

A few tips to avoid telemarketing scams:

  • Check out unfamiliar companies with the Better Business Bureau or National Fraud Information Center before doing business with them.
  • Pay for services only after they are delivered.
  • Don’t pay for a “free prize” if one is offered.
  • Don’t make a snap decision – legitimate companies will give you time to consider an offer.
  • Never send money, credit card information or personal information to unfamiliar companies or people.
  • If an offer is “too good to be true”, it probably is.

You can read more information about various types of scams and how to avoid them at FBI.gov. Be sure to stay safe this holiday season!

 

Should your aging parent be living alone?

Here at Brooking Park, we understand that dealing with an aging parent can sometimes be stressful, particularly if the parent values their independence and may be lacking the ability to live by themselves.  Aisha Sultan in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently wrote up a list of 10 signs that could let you know that an aging relative or friend is having a difficult time alone.  These signs are adapted from Carolyn A. Brent’s book, “Why Wait? The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Preparing Emotionally, Financially & Legally for a Parent’s Death“.

1. The house is messier than usual. If your parent used to keep a spotless, organized home and is now struggling to do so, they may be having problems keeping up with their previous habits. They could be having physical health issues or be overwhelmed by the work. You can offer to help or keep an eye on the level of cleanliness to see if it worsens with time.

2. Bills and mail are piling up.  This could be a sign that your loved one is having trouble keeping up with basic daily tasks, or could be a sign of memory issues.

3. Financial issues such as unbalanced checking accounts and unpaid bills. This could be a sign of memory issues, math cognition difficulties, or apathy.

4. Losing a lot of weight. This could indicate depression or be a result of a recent loss of a loved one. You can help by bringing over groceries or looking into a meal delivery service.

5. Hygiene basics are missing. If your parent is wearing the same clothing for multiple days or regularly appear dirty, they may be having hygienic issues. This could indicate depression, lack of motivation, or lack of ability to take care of themselves, or that they have forgotten that cleanliness is important.

6. Appearing in inappropriate clothing. Wearing inappropriate clothing for a situation, such as wearing a nightgown to the store, could be an indicator of confusion in the elderly.

7. Signs of forgetfulness around the house. Kitchen incidents, such as leaving a pot on the stove and causing a fire, can be an indicator of confusion and memory issues in the elderly.

8. Regularly missing appointments or events. Forgetfulness and other memory issues can interfere with keeping appointments and taking medication on schedule.

9. Acting strangely. If you parent’s behavior has taken an unusual turn, this could indicate aging-related mental issues or side effects from medication, and should not be ignored.

10. Exhibiting signs of depression.  If your loved one has lost interest in caring for themselves, once-loved hobbies, and socializing, this could indicate depression. It could come from loneliness or realizing that they can no longer be fully independent.

If your loved one is experiencing these issues, an assisted living community might the perfect solution, and Brooking Park is glad to be here to provide the help they need.  Call us at 314-576-5545 and we’ll be glad to answer all your questions about assisted living in general or about Brooking Park in particular – after all we’re here to help you Worry Less!®

Check out the original article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.