I’ve Fallen. What Do I Do Now?

Staying Put at Home Tips for Mobility It happens countless times each year in every community: a senior loses his or her balance and falls down.

The risk of a fall causes anxiety and worry, and the results can be debilitating. When a fall occurs, it can be hard to know what to do next.

Feeling safe in your own home is the cornerstone of Aging in Place. Many seniors unfortunately believe they can’t successfully stay in good health in the homes they’ve had for years. While you can take preventative measures around your home to safeguard yourself, there’s still the vexing question as to what to do in the immediate aftermath of a fall. For this post, Staying Put at Home will look at what you should do in the event of a fall in your home and alone.

Stay Calm and Evaluate Your Surrounding

After you’ve fallen, it’s natural to panic. However, keeping a level head during this situation will be of the utmost importance. Take a few deep breaths to regroup. Once you’ve done this, look around the room to see what could help you either get up or call for help. Then, remain on the ground for a few minutes to assess whether you are able to move or if you are feeling any pain.

Getting Up

Now that you’re calm, you can try to get up. If you think you can get up safely, roll over on to your side. Next, get to your hands and knees and try crawling to nearby furniture, like a chair or sofa. Once you’re there, rest a moment. After you’ve gathered enough strength, try to get to a kneeling position. From there, try turning and getting on the seat.

Getting Help

Once you’re in a seated position, rested and calm, consider whether you need to call an ambulance, your family or your caregiver.

I Can’t Get Up

If you are unable to reach a phone, then try to maneuver to an area where you can be heard by neighbors. Also try to find a position that is comfortable, as you don’t want any more stress. From this position, try calling out for help. It is also a good idea to have someone you trust check in on you every day, whether that person is a family member, friend, neighbor or hired caregiver. Even a routine phone call each day could help tip this person off that something is amiss. Preparing a schedule with someone for regular visits or calls before an emergency occurs is your safest bet to staying safe inside your home.

Emergency Response System

Having an Emergency Response System in place can provide peace of mind. In emergencies such as falls, an Emergency Response device can be life-saving, as it will help you to get immediate help should you be injured. When one-third of seniors over the age of 65 fall each year, it’s important to have a plan in place for your safety and peace of mind.

We hope that this article has given you a few ideas for how best to handle a fall. If you have any advice that you’d like to offer to the Staying Put at Home community, please share in our comment section.

Having the Senior Care Discussion

Staying Put at Home Tips for CaregivingWhen deciding whether to Age in Place or move out of your home, feelings can often be hurt. Maybe a parent isn’t ready to let go of the house that she has lived in for decades. Maybe one child doesn’t want to help pay for senior care, or another doesn’t want dad to come live with him. Whatever the case may be, coming up with a compromise can be an arduous give and take. For this post, Staying Put at Home considers how we can best deliberate on Aging in Place and senior care.


Just like with most activities, a little preparation beforehand can go a long way when it comes to figuring out a senior’s home and health care plans. Make it clear exactly what everyone’s responsibilities and expectations are. Establishing these roles before there is a problem will not only provide peace of mind, it will also make it easier for someone to get ready for a potentially demanding or expensive caregiver duty. A family planning meeting can also present a good opportunity to learn about the myriad costs of senior care and Aging in Place. Staying Put at Home has gone over the relative costs of these options, and even more options exist for more specialized care.

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Crises and emergencies are almost always exacerbated when no preparation is made. AARP has a great guide for topics to discuss when discussing senior care options. A family planning meeting can also be one of the best decisions you make when it comes to senior finances. Should you have the opportunity, also try to discuss wills, trusts and durable powers of attorney.

…And Be Prepared to Make Changes

As another old saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry. Circumstances change, and what might have sounded like good plan two or three years ago might not be feasible today. However, this doesn’t mean that making preparations is arbitrary. A plan is still a great step, just remember that they aren’t necessarily ironclad.

Flexibility and accommodation might be difficult, but they are sometimes necessary when deciding the housing and care options for you or your senior loved one.

Get Help When You Need It

It is exhausting to make decisions regarding senior care. Good intentions might be lost in communication, or not everyone will see eye to eye. In cases like these, where it seems like there is no way forward, enlisting a professional geriatric care manager makes sense. This advisor will be able to outline your options and guide you toward the choice that makes the most sense. Their area of expertise can help clear up any misconceptions. For example, they’ll tell you that most long-term care is not covered by Medicare. Consulting with these trained specialists might save you a lot of headaches and heart breaks. Plus, consulting a care manager might help you save money in the long run.

What to Do When Everyone Lives in a Different Town

Children grow up and move to different towns and cities. When a parent eventually needs to decide on his or her senior care options, it can be strenuous to find out which responsibility each child will need to take on, especially if some aren’t nearby. We can’t reiterate enough the importance of having a family planning meeting, as these help the kids get on the same page. For example, if one child lives across the country, then they can still assist with caregiving by helping to fund a parent’s senior services. Having everyone in agreement before senior care is needed can help avoid any messy discord.

Be Honest and Realistic

At this critical juncture, clear and truthful communication is crucial. Make sure that everyone knows each other’s responsibilities and expectations. It is easy for people to overestimate how much time, money and energy they can provide, so giving a truthful, reasonable assessment for the amount of care that you can offer will help out down the line. Even a slight misunderstanding or miscommunication can have a resounding impact on both the caregiver and the person receiving assistance. Do your best to be upfront and realistic about your role when discussing caregiving.

We hope this advice has helped you consider how to broach senior care with your family. If you have any suggestions about caregiving conversations, then please share with the Staying Put at Home community in the comment section.

Working in Retirement? 8 Great Part-time and Work-at-Home Jobs for Retirees

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthNow that you have retired and are settling in at home, you might discover that you left the workplace too soon. Maybe you need a little extra money to supplement your income and help out around the house. Maybe you miss having the structure and schedule that a job can provide. Maybe you just miss interacting with the public on a regular basis. There are a number of reasons why retired seniors may hope to re-enter the work force. In fact, roughly 74% of seniors are expected to pursue another job or career after retirement.1 For this post, Staying Put at Home will look at a few part-time or work-from-home jobs that are popular among seniors.

Potential Jobs for Retirees

  • Tutor: While transitioning into retirement, many teachers and professors become tutors. This work is not limited to those in the teaching field however, as many companies hire tutors who demonstrate aptitude in a given area. Tutoring can be done both in-person or online, making it as convenient as possible. One website that specializes in tutoring is Tutor.com.
  • Freelance Writer or Editor: One great thing about the internet is that it gives a venue for many more voices to be heard. People want content, and many companies are responding by hiring freelance writers to fill this desire. These companies also want this content to read well, so they hire editors to pore over each text to make sure it meets a high standard. Now is the time that you can put a life’s worth of experience into writing.
  • Library Assistant/Aide: Many local and university libraries need help with shelving books and answering questions. While some libraries ask workers to have an undergraduate or graduate degree in library science, many others don’t require such qualifications. Call or email your local library to find out more.
  • Translator: Do you speak another language? Translation services are almost always in demand, especially with hospitals and legal enterprises. Best of all, it can often be done from the comfort of your own home. Furthermore, the translation field is predicted to grow by 36 percent in the next five years, meaning more opportunities are sure to come.2
  • Bookkeeping: Many small businesses often look for part-time bookkeepers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that one-fourth of bookkeepers are part-time.3 If you worked with numbers pre-retirement, then a company could relish your experience. This is even truer if you have an advanced degree or a CPA credential. It’s worth noting that most bookkeeping requires being up-to-date with certain software, like QuickBooks.
  • Consultant: You have built up a solid foundation of knowledge about your profession over decades of work. Now that you have retired, however, you don’t want all that information to lay fallow. Consulting can be a good way to keep one foot in the career path you have cultivated over the years.
  • Customer Service Representative: After retirement, it is common for seniors to miss the frequent interactions they once had with the public. Being a customer service representative can help soothe this feeling. While some companies prefer representatives work onsite, others (like Hilton Hotels or American Airlines) allow customer service reps to work remotely. These jobs usually require you to have an up-to-date computer, high-speed internet, and a telephone headset.
  • Tour Guide or Museum Guard: If you’re comfortable standing on your feet and talking to crowds, then a tour guide or museum guard position could be a lot of fun. These jobs let you put all that knowledge that you’ve accumulated over the years to good use.

Government Programs and Agencies Can Help Find Work

Certain federal agencies can be a great resource for seniors looking to get back into the workforce. For example, the National Older Worker Career Center has job listings for seniors over 55 on their website. Websites like Go Government and USA Jobs can also connect seniors to potential jobs in the government. However, those sites aren’t limited to senior workers, so you’ll be competing against younger candidates for jobs. Don’t let that dissuade you, as experience counts for a lot in this labor force.

The US State Department also has a page that lists a plethora of job sites for seniors. If you’re just getting started on your job search, then this page can be a nice consolidation of a gaggle of helpful employment avenues.

Watch Out For Scams

While some of these opportunities are legitimate, a great many are too good to be true. The FBI warns that many work from home listings are just avenues for crooks to commit identity theft or swindle people into giving away money.

One scam that is perpetrated time and time again is the “Medical Billing Work” crime. The scammers will convince you about a growing market of preparing bills for doctors’ offices. They will then send you software and training manuals that cost hundreds or thousands. Once they have your money, they disappear and leave you with a bunch of worthless tools and no jobs.

Another common trick is the envelope stuffing scheme. Workers will need to pay an “investment” in the materials, which they will never see again. Remember to ask yourself why anyone would pay a person to stuff envelopes when they could hire a specialist business who would do it for much cheaper.

ALWAYS check the legitimacy of a company before contacting them or giving them any confidential information. Make sure that you ask plenty of questions. If you encounter a possible scam, then report it as quickly as possible to the Federal Trade Commission or the Better Business Bureau.

Whether you need to earn a little extra cash or enter a field that you have always been curious about, there are numerous jobs out there for retirees. Just be careful about maintaining your security and NEVER provide sensitive information if you have the slightest feeling that a company is fraudulent. If you have any tips about career searches, then please share with the Staying Put at Home community in the comment section.

1. 10 Second Career Ideas for Retirees | Return to Text
2. The Hottest Jobs And How To Get One In Retirement | Return to Text
3. The New Best Jobs for Retirees | Return to Text

As Assisted Living Cost Rises Above $5000 in Some Areas, Aging in Place Looks Like a More Necessary Option for Seniors

Staying Put at Home Tips for CaregivingStaying Put at Home has long been a proponent for seniors Aging in Place as long as they are capable of doing so safely. It makes financial sense and can be achieved with a few home renovations and safety measures. Now, a new study by A Place for Mom shows that the cost of Assisted Living Facilities is steadily increasing, adding to the list of reasons why Aging in Place may be the better option. The study followed a sample of 100,000 seniors who moved into senior living communities between 2012 and 2015.

Between 2014 and 2015, the median cost for a senior community rose by $99 per month. Of course, the cost of assisted living facilities varies by region, with the Northeast having an average cost of $5045 per month while the West registers an average cost of $3957 per month. Further Senior living facilities in the South have seen a 4% climb in cost since 2012, with senior living facilities averaging $3654 per month. As the price tag associated with these organizations continues to grow, it will become less and less of a reality for seniors to live there without seriously depleting their savings.

At Staying Put at Home, we know that Aging in Place is not always an option, as many seniors will need some kind of assistance as they grow older. However, we think it’s important that our readers understand the costs of entering a senior living community. If you want to add to the conversation about the costs and benefits of senior living facilities and Aging in Place, then please share with the Staying Put at Home community in our comment section.

Seven Great Hobbies for Senior Well-Being

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthThere are many proven benefits to seniors having hobbies, including improved memory, lower stress, a stronger immune system and a better night’s sleep.1 Having a hobby has also been linked to a lower risk of heart attack.2 If you’ve retired or your kids have moved out of your home, you finally have the opportunity to pursue your passions. However, there are a lot of activities out there, so knowing your options can give you more time to stay happy and occupied. For this post, Staying Put at Home looks into a few recreations that you can do from the comfort of your own home.


Get some fresh air by tending to your garden. Spending some days gardening can reduce stress, plus you can also raise fresh fruits and vegetables to support a healthy diet. Furthermore, gardening has been associated with better dexterity, stronger brain health and lower stroke risk.3 If your house doesn’t have room for a garden, don’t worry: many cities have community gardens. Working in your community garden can also introduce you to a broad spectrum of people, increasing your social circle should you so desire.


It is wonderful to find an outlet for your creativity. While you might not have had time to dabble in the arts earlier in your life, now that you are Aging in Place, you can get your creative juices flowing. Don’t feel like painting your masterpiece quite yet? Then enjoying an adult coloring book could be up your alley. This activity has become wildly popular; adult coloring books are now among the most popular items on the Amazon bestseller list. Moreover, this calming pastime has been found to lower stress.4


Making scrapbooks can be a pleasant trip down memory lane. Consolidating all your photos and mementos into easy-to-find books will make it effortless to access them at a moment’s notice. It will also encourage you to declutter and give you more space around the house. Best of all, if you find a partner to scrapbook with, you can trade anecdotes about the photos, postcards, etc.


With all the time that Aging in Place affords, you can finally make yourself a feast. Even if you don’t consider yourself a master chef, cooking can still be very rewarding. Plus, putting together a meal will cause you to get up and moving, helping your mobility in the process. It’s also worth reminding to always move safely and avoid any kitchen fires.

Quilting & Knitting

Not only are quilting and knitting fun, soothing activities that can make the hours flow by, but they also will give you a nice blanket for all your work. Beyond this material reward, knitting can alleviate anxiety and potentially prevent arthritis.5

Sketching, Oil Painting and Water Colors

Painting and sketching can be a way to express your creative side. Many senior centers and community colleges offer painting classes and courses in case you want a more structured, communal environment. If that isn’t your cup of tea, then you can easily paint from the comfort of your own home. The great thing about sketchbooks is that they are easy to move around, so you can take them with you to any meetings or appointments you might have.


Although many view exercise as a chore, small activities like a walk around the block or some light stretches could assist your mobility down the road. Staying Put at Home has explored some great exercises for seniors. Remember to follow a routine that you’re comfortable with and to check in with a physician first.

Most importantly, you can be a novice at any age. We hope that this post has spurred some ideas for new and exciting hobbies. Many senior centers also offer classes and events focusing on these activities, so you can meet like-minded people who share your enthusiasm. If you have any hobbies that you think our readers should know about, then please share in the Staying Put at Home comments section.

1. 6 Health Benefits of Having Hobbies & Leisure Activities | Return to Text
2. 6 Surprising Ways to Ward Off Heart Attacks | Return to Text
3. 6 Unexpected Health Benefits of Gardening | Return to Text
4. Coloring Isn’t Just for Kids. It Can Actually Help Adults Combat Stress. | Return to Text
5. Health Benefits for Those Who Stick to Their Knitting | Return to Text

Staying Active With Friends, Family and Your Community: Knowing Where to Look

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthAs we get older, it’s common to lead a more solitary life. In fact, over 11 million men and women above the age of 65 who do not live in a care facility live alone.1 Furthermore, the rate of loneliness has gone up in the United States, with 40 percent of seniors saying they feel lonely.2 If you are Aging in Place, then you might not have the community of an assisted living facility to rely on. Isolation may not only make you feel lonely, but it can also affect your health, as those who identified as lonely were 59 percent more likely to have functional decline in daily activities compared to their non-lonely peers.3 In this post, Staying Put at Home considers what you can do to stay up-to-date with your friends and social network while also forming new friendships within your community.

How to Connect With Loved Ones and Stay Active in Your Community

Loneliness doesn’t need to affect your health or your daily life. Here are just a few ways you can connect with your community and nurture existing relationships:

  • Seniors can use Skype, FaceTime or other video chat software to talk with long-distance friends and loved ones. While it is not exactly the same as having your friend in the living room with you, it is a step up from talking on the phone.
  • Connect with friends and family on social media. Studies show that using social media websites foster connectivity and community.4 By using Facebook or Twitter, seniors can check-in on friends and loved ones.
  • Look into classes at your local college or university. Many colleges allow older adults to audit classes for free or at a discounted rate. This can let you develop relationships with people across a broad age range, exposing you to new perspectives you might not find otherwise. Not only can you meet new people, but you can develop new skills and stay sharp by challenging yourself.
  • Visit your local senior center. These facilities usually have group activities, exercise programs and classes that can introduce you to other seniors in your area. You might even develop a new hobby and make some new friends. Most community and senior centers offer helpful computer and social media classes.
  • Research senior networks in your area. For example, Pasadena, CA has the Senior Care Network, which offers programs and classes for seniors and helps coordinate care and service delivery.5 Not only is this a convenient method to get care, but it can be a great way to meet others who are in a similar living situation.
  • Volunteer, if you are able. If there is a cause or organization that you are especially interested in, then volunteering can help give you a feeling of accomplishment. It can also introduce you to people with similar interests, which can foster new relationships.
  • Sign up for Meals on Wheels. Even if you don’t need the meal, the group will send someone to your home on a routine basis who can check up on you.
  • Adopt a pet or visit an animal. Therapy animals have been shown to help seniors feel relaxed, lift moods, ward off heart disease and lower health care costs.6 While it isn’t realistic for many seniors to take care of an animal, many communities offer programs that help seniors connect with animals. One example is Pets for the Elderly. Caring for a pet can also give a senior a sense of purpose, which can combat depression.

Always remember that you have options when it comes to building and maintaining relationships. We hope that our look into the potential solutions to senior loneliness helps. If you have your own suggestions, then please share with the Staying Put at Home community in the comments section.

1. Fighting Senior Isolation? You’re Not Alone | Return to Text
2. When Being Alone Turns to Loneliness, There are Ways to Fight Back | Return to Text
3. How to End the Senior Loneliness Epidemic | Return to Text
4. Does Posting Online Facebook Status Updates Increase or Decrease Loneliness? | Return to Text
5. About Huntington Hospital Senior Care Network | Return to Text
6. Pet Therapy and the Benefits of Pets in Senior Living | Return to Text

FACT or FICTION: Joint Pain & Rheumatoid Arthritis

 Staying Put at Home Tips for Pain ReliefThere’s so much information and hearsay out there about joint pain and arthritis that it can often become confusing or contradictory. This means that people can often be misled and as a result follow the wrong advice, perhaps making the joint pain worse in the process. For this post, Staying Put at Home looks at the facts and fictions of joint pain and arthritis, and what treatments are available to alleviate and reduce discomfort.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Only Affects Seniors: Fiction
While the risk of arthritis increases with age, arthritis can begin at any time.1 The average age of onset for rheumatoid arthritis is 40.2 It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of arthritis, like morning stiffness, joint swelling and a decreased range of motion. If you can catch these symptoms early on, then doctors will be able to prescribe the necessary medication to help relieve pain.

Joint Pain Must Be Arthritis: Fiction
While there are more than 100 forms of arthritis (the most prevalent being osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis), having joint pain is not the same as having an arthritic condition. Sometimes, that ache can be a soft tissue injury, bursitis or tendinitis.

Cracking Your Knuckles Causes Arthritis: Fiction
It’s an idea that you have been told countless times since you were a child: If you crack your knuckles, then you will eventually develop arthritis. However, there are no studies that corroborate these assertions.3 However, knuckle cracking has been linked to a weaker grip and swollen hands, so it might be time to let this habit go, if you haven’t already.4

Smoking is Linked to Arthritis: Fact
Smoking has been connected to a multitude of health conditions, so it is little surprise that it is also linked to rheumatoid arthritis. A recent study showed that more than one third of cases of RA can be attributed at least in part to smoking.5 According to Mayo Clinic, smoking also weakens the drugs used to combat rheumatoid arthritis.6 Much like knuckle cracking, smoking might be a habit to kick.

Those with Joint Pain Should Avoid Movement and Exercise: Fiction
While it might not be comfortable to move while your joints are in pain, staying sedentary can cause damage and further joint pain. Exercise is helpful for those who are experiencing joint pain, helping them improve range of motion and flexibility. Not exercising will contribute to muscle, bone and cardiovascular deterioration, which will make it harder for you to exercise in the future.

Hydrotherapy Reduces Joint Pain and Arthritis Pain: Fact
As we have mentioned in a previous post, hydrotherapy can be a great way to relax, ease tension and reduce pain in your joints. Hydrotherapy can also reduce inflammation caused by arthritis, aid in digestion, induce sleep, ease diabetic pain and relax muscles. Studies suggest that it is the warm water that soothes the joints.7 These are just a few of the many benefits of hydrotherapy. There are a couple of ways to receive the soothing benefits of hydrotherapy, including a pool or a walk-in bathtub. If you would like to learn more about hydrotherapy, click here.

Keeping up to date with the latest arthritis and joint pain information can help you treat many potential health conditions. We hope that this look at some common misconceptions has helped you learn more about joint pain and what you can do to ease soreness. If you have any misconceptions that we did not go over, then please share with the Staying Put at Home community in our comment section.

1. Arthritis Frequently Asked Questions | Return to Text
2. 10 Common Rheumatoid Arthritis Myths | Return to Text
3. Is Cracking Your Knuckles Bad? | Return to Text
4. Does Knuckle Cracking Cause Arthritis? | Return to Text
5. 7 Bad Habits to Drop With Rheumatoid Arthritis | Return to Text
6. Smoking and Rheumatoid Arthritis | Return to Text
7. How Hydrotherapy Helps Seniors with Arthritis | Return to Text

A Safe Haven from the Cold: How to Keep Yourself Warm at Home This Winter

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthAs temperatures dip and large snowstorms hit the east coast during this year’s winter, it’s important to remember to stay warm. This proves especially true for seniors, who are more susceptible to hypothermia, pneumonia and bronchitis.1 2 3 These conditions are thankfully avoidable if you take the necessary precautions. In this post, Staying Put at Home looks at how to keep you and your home warm during these cold winter months.

How to Stay Warm

  • Bundle Up: Wrapping yourself in a blanket or wearing extra layers of clothing can help you keep your body temperature up. Just make sure that you can easily maneuver while in these extra layers, as you don’t want them to be a tripping hazard. It’s also worth noting that you lose most of your warmth through your head, so a cap can very effectively keep you warm.
  • Keep Your Curtains Closed at Night: Making sure your window coverings are closed can help trap heat inside your home. If you live in a cold climate, then consider getting insulated curtains, which will help retain the heat in your home.
  • Check Your Vents: If your vents are closed, then you might be blocking heat from entering your room. Furniture may also be blocking your vents, so check to see that your vents have no impediments.
  • Close the Door: As with open curtains, heat often exits through open doors. Shut the door between each room to keep the temperature up.
  • Cover Up Cracks and Caulk Leaks: We can’t reiterate enough how easy it is for heat to slip out of your home. Prevent outside drafts from flowing into your home by covering thresholds and repairing holes. Plugging up holes and leaks will make your home much warmer. Also consider covering your keyholes, as these often overlooked openings can let cold air seep in and allow heat to escape.
  • Reverse Ceiling Fans: Many ceiling fans have a “winter” setting, which will make them run clockwise in reverse. Because heat rises, the clockwise-spinning fan will push heat back down into the room. All you need to do is flip the switch that comes standard on most ceiling fans.
  • Cook: It might sound odd, but cooking will make your kitchen warmer, which will help ward off chilly temperatures. Just make sure you remember to turn off the oven or stove after use! Warm foods and drinks (like soup or tea) can also help keep your temperature up. With that said, remember to eat or drink them at a safe temperature. You don’t want to scald yourself.


Visit a Medical Professional if You Feel Under the Weather

If you feel sick or cold, do not hesitate to visit a doctor. A cold during a low temperature can quickly grow into something more serious. Make sure you regularly take your temperature during winter. If your body temperature falls below 96 degrees, then call for emergency help.

Energy Plans Can Help Save Money on Warming Your Home

Many state governments offer plans to help those with fixed incomes or low incomes save money on heating their homes. For example, California has the California Low Income Home Energy Assistance plan, which helps those with a low income offset the cost of heating their home. California electric companies, like Southern California Edison and PG&E, also offer discounts through the California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) and Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) programs. These programs provide assistance for those on Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as well as those who meet certain income requirements. To check whether your state offers any financial assistance for home heating, visit http://www.benefits.gov/benefits/browse-by-category/category/ENA.

We hope that these tips will help you stay toasty during this chilly winter. If you have any tips you would like to share with the Staying Put at Home community, please write in our comments section.

1. Hypothermia: A Cold Weather Hazard | Return to Text
2. Why The Elderly are More Susceptible to Pneumonia | Return to Text
3. An Overview of Bronchitis | Return to Text

Better Safe Than Sorry: How to Avoid Common Senior Scams

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior SecurityEvery year, thousands of seniors fall victim to scams that prey on their fears, goodwill and charity. According to the FBI, senior citizens are often the targets of these scams because they are less likely to report a fraud.1 This is usually because they don’t know who to report it to, are ashamed of being deceived or are unaware that they have been tricked.

For this post, we have identified a few popular scams that target seniors so that you know what to watch out for.

Telemarketing Fraud

The Department of Justice estimates that dishonest telemarketers bring in about $40 billion each year.2 Scammers will usually get seniors on the phone, and because many seniors may be lonely or don’t want to seem rude, they listen to the scammer’s pitch. Furthermore, seniors are more likely to make a purchase over the phone than younger people are.3 There are many tactics that a scammer may use, including:

  • Tricking a senior into believing that they have a family member who is in trouble and needs money immediately
  • Telling the senior that he or she needs to act now to get the reward
  • Telling the senior that he or she has won a free prize, but that the senior needs to pay for shipping and handling
  • Lying that the money is going to a charity (this one is especially frequent during the holiday season)
  • Callers will sidestep questions about their business (legitimate businesses will always be happy to answer questions)

If you think that the person on the other end of the line is not legitimate, then hang up as soon as possible.

Medicare Fraud

Medicare scammers will frequently pose as government agencies or other organizations over the phone in order to get access to your personal information. Do not trust calls from people who purport to be with government agencies. Medicare almost never calls. On the rare occasion that they do call, they will not ask for any financial or personal information. They also will not visit your home and try to sell you products.

A few tips to avoid Medicare fraud include:

  • Protect your Medicare number and your Social Security number. Be very careful about when and who you give it out to.
  • Use a calendar to record all your doctor appointments and what tests you get. Then check your Medicare statements to make sure that each service listed and all the details are correct.
  • Always make sure you understand how a health plan works before you sign up.
  • Don’t be swayed by any kind of advertising or salesmen that swear they have your best interest at heart.
  • Have all legitimate Medicare contact information handy

If you believe that somebody is committing Medicare fraud, then you should report that person immediately. When reporting somebody, make sure you have the following information:

  • The provider’s name and any identifying number you may have
  • The service or item you are questioning
  • The date the service or item was supposedly given or delivered
  • The payment amount approved and paid by Medicare
  • The date on your MSN
  • Your name and Medicare number
  • The reason you think Medicare should not have paid
  • Any other information you have showing why Medicare should not have paid for a service or item

Family & Friend Scams

We’ve already mentioned that some scammers might pose as family members in order to coax seniors out of their savings. However, a senior’s family or friends could be the ones perpetrating the scam. These people will usually try to manipulate the senior into giving them money. This is common if the senior is isolated or depends on the family member or friend. The friend or family member may also get power of attorney over the senior’s finances. With this, the scammer can access the senior’s savings and spend without restraint. This is especially dangerous if the senior has dementia or is otherwise incapacitated.

It can be hard for authorities to learn when this scam is happening. Many seniors are reluctant to turn in their friend or loved one. They may also feel shame or embarrassment about being scammed by a family member. The scammers could also isolate the senior, so others won’t learn about any financial exploitation. It’s important to remember that there are options to combat senior financial abuse from family and friends, and that the earlier the authorities are contacted and the scam ends, the better for everyone.

Repair Fraud

You hear a knock at the door. You open it to find a roofer, electrician or landscaper with hat in hand, telling you that they have been doing some work in the area and noticed that your house could use a touch-up. What might sound like a convenience and a good deal is likely a scam. Repair scams happen when these people do not perform the service they have said that they have done. When this happens, call the police.

Repair scam can also happen with the mechanic. A mechanic might look at a senior as an easy target, and grossly overcharge them or recommend repairs that a car does not need. If you believe that something is suspect, then speak to a younger loved one or get a second opinion on your car. Also, ask the person for their contractor’s license and references.

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are usually fraudulent emails that seem to come from legitimate organizations. These emails then get you to divulge private information, usually by directing you to a website that appears safe. Once they have your personal information, they are able to commit identity theft. Identity theft can be devastating, draining a person’s hard-earned savings and damaging credit scores. Repairing the damage wrought by identity theft can take years. Even opening a phishing email can result in computer viruses, which are costly to repair.

One way to avoid getting caught in a phishing scam is by not clicking on a link or downloading information unless you are absolutely sure that you know who the sender is. Also, do not email any personal or financial information. Keeping your personal information secure online is of the utmost importance.

Who to Call if You Suspect Something is Wrong

If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, we suggest you contact your local authorities as soon as possible. Even if it is a false alarm, it is better to be safe than sorry. Signing up on the FCC’s Do-Not-Call registry can also cut down on the number of potential scammers who will call you. This can be done over the phone at (888) 382-1222 or online at donotcall.gov.

Senior fraud affects millions of people across the country. Fraud victims should not feel ashamed if someone has taken advantage of them. Contacting the authorities is the best way to make sure these people can’t harm anyone else. If you have any tips for fighting senior fraud and scams that we haven’t touched on, please share in our comment section.

1. Common Senior Fraud Schemes | Return to Text
2. Elder Abuse: Financial Scams Against Seniors | Return to Text
3. Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors | Return to Text

Aging in Place: A Brief Introduction to NORCs

Staying Put at Home Tips for Home Safety It can be easier to Age in Place when you are part of a naturally occurring retirement community (NORC). A NORC is a community that was not originally designed for seniors, but that has gradually begun to have a high proportion of older residents. More specifically, the term denotes any community in which 40 percent of the population is aged 60 or over and lives in their own homes. This could be an apartment complex or a few adjacent neighborhoods. These associations are often used as a way to forgo moving to a senior living facility, thereby allowing the members to Age in Place. These types of communities began to appear in the mid-1980s, and they are now spreading across the country as seniors are looking at their future housing options. As of 2012, there were 29 self-identified NORCs in operation.1 However, it is estimated that about 5,000 non-self-identified NORCs currently exist in the United States.2

What Does a NORC Entail?

Beyond being naturally occurring, NORCs do not follow one codified example, although some do have certain qualities in common. For example, many NORCs will elect some type of board to make decisions for the community. NORCs can become NORC-SSPs, or naturally occurring retirement communities – supportive services programs. NORC-SSPs provide their members with more services in exchange for dues. A few of these services include:

  • Health care management
  • Home repair
  • Group activities
  • Food delivery
  • Legal & financial advice
  • Mental health counseling
  • Disease management

NORC-SSPs frequently rely on government or philanthropic subsidies. Without this assistance, many NORC-SSPs fail to last. Although there might be some local ordinances that NORCs must follow, they are not regulated at the state or federal level. This makes it different than most other forms of senior housing.

It is worth noting that a NORC is not a senior village. We have discussed senior villages in a previous post. To reiterate, a senior village is a membership-based organization with a paid staff. NORCs do not have this staff to rely on. It is usually the members’ responsibility to plan and develop the NORC, so they decide how the group is run. In general, a senior village will offer more services to its members than a NORC does. Villages and NORCs cater to different needs, so it is important to know what you want from your senior living community before signing up.

Examples of NORCs

To better understand what a NORC is, it might help to examine a few that already exist:

  • Lincoln Towers: Located in New York City, Lincoln Towers were originally built as a rent-stabilized complex in the 1960s. At the moment, about 40 percent of the residents are over 60. To meet the needs of the senior residents, the NORC created Project Open, an outreach program that helps connect the community’s older members through activities and provides services (like grocery shopping) to help them Age in Place.
  • Tierrasanta Project: This San Diego naturally occurring retirement community has more than 5,500 seniors. Many of the current homeowners moved to the area in the 1970s, when the neighborhoods in Tierrasanta were built. These residents wanted to remain in their homes as long as possible, so they formed a NORC. They often have workshops and group activities, usually led by retired professionals from their community.
  • St. Louis NORC: Covering a three-mile area in suburban St. Louis County, the St. Louis NORC connects seniors through classes and get-togethers to keep them engaged in their community. The NORC also helps them accomplish routine tasks around the house, making it easier to remain in their homes. U.S. News & World Report featured the St. Louis NORC as model of Aging in Place.3

Benefits of Living in a NORC

As we mentioned earlier, NORCs can provide a lot of resources that the members might not have been able to access without the group. Buying these services in bulk could also mean that the NORCs get a better deal, which would mean paying less in membership fees.

NORCs can give people a safety net in the neighborhood that they have grown to know and love. Moving can be stressful at any age, but it is especially hard for seniors. If you have become attached to the place you live, then it might be difficult to leave behind not only your house, but also your friends and neighbors. If you would like to stay in your current home after retirement, consider encouraging senior support programs and communities to help your own neighborhood flourish into a NORC.

It’s common for NORCs to organize group activities (like book clubs, museum tours, picnics or exercise classes) so that friends and neighbors can interact with each other more frequently. These gatherings can cut down on senior isolation and the accompanying depression and anxiety, potentially adding years to a person’s life. In fact, living in a sociable and pleasant neighborhood or community has been linked to a lower risk of heart attack and stroke.4

Remember, NORCs are Not Perfect

We have to remember that NORCs are not an adequate replacement for when home care or assisted living services are needed. These communities primarily benefit seniors who are healthy enough to live at home. If you do not think that you can inhabit your home safely in the immediate future, then a NORC will likely not be able to give you the assistance you need.

A NORC will usually reflect its users. If the members put a lot of effort into running their community, then they will likely have a well-developed system that offers more resources and benefits to each person involved. If the members do not all see eye-to-eye on the community, then problems may arise, ultimately hurting the community.

We hope you found our look at NORCs helpful. If there is something that you would like to add, please share it with the Staying Put at Home community in our comment section!

1. Aging-in-Place Spotlight: Rutgers Study | Return to Text
2. Connected to the Community: Current Aging-in-Place Choices | Return to Text
3. NORCs: Unique Havens for an Aging America | Return to Text
4. Home Care Supports Our Senior Neighbors | Return to Text