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Senior Scams to Watch Out For

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If you’re lucky, you haven’t been the target of a scam, even luckier if you have been targeted but managed to figure out what was going on before you got swindled. The problem with scams nowadays is that they are so easy to perpetrate due to the low cost of running them. Many scams happen through the mail, email, or phone. Through the mail, if you receive something you were not expecting, it’s best not to believe it, especially if it’s something that sounds too good to be true. The same goes for email.

A common email scam is called the Nigerian Prince or 419 scam. This scam involves an email from someone claiming to represent a distant family member of yours. This family member is dying or sick and they need you to take their money. Another example is that the email is claiming to be a foreign government or agency needing your assistance. The sum of the money is usually in the millions. All you have to do to receive this money is to give them your contact info and wire them some money for fees.

It may sound like a crazy scam, but it is a huge industry in foreign countries because it costs almost nothing to send these emails and if they can just get one person to send a few thousand dollars it makes it worthwhile.

In regards to seniors, there are many disreputable people out there looking to take advantage. Below are some of the common scams that have been discovered that specifically target the elderly.

Investment Scams
Many seniors are planning for retirement and thus looking to invest their nest egg. People take advantage by offering investment schemes that are looking to take your money. Before investing anything with these groups or individuals, it is best to get a second or third opinion from a trusted friend or professional.

Sweepstakes Scams
Everyone loves free money, and scammers love to target this. You may receive a phone call, email, or letter claiming that you won a sweepstakes or lottery. All you have to do is send them a payment to unlock the prize. They will even send you an official looking check to make it look like you really won, but when you go to deposit the check it turns out to be fake.

The Grandparent Scam
This scam is scary, because it preys on your willingness to help your family. I have actually seen this scam in action and knew someone who was very close to sending the scammers money. The scammer will call you, claiming to be a relative like a grandchild. They will often ask “Hi Grandma/Grandpa, do you know who this is?”. That way they will know that you already think they are your relative. Then they will bring up a problem about finances like a late rent payment or they need money for some unexpected issue. They will ask for the payment through Western Union, MoneyGram, or even Visa Prepaid cards. The scammers will ensure you tell no one by saying “Please don’t tell my parents”. If you ever encounter something like this, the best way to ensure it is truly a relative is to ask them something only they would know such as their mother’s name, pet’s name, favorite vacation spot. Asking for money through Western Union is often a sign that it is a scam.

Telemarketing Scams
These scams are easy to perpetrate because they involve no paper trail or face to face interaction. Once the scam is complete, it is nearly impossible to recover money. One way to avoid phone scams is not to take calls from anyone you don’t know personally, especially if that person is bringing up the subject of money.

One common phone scam is to call and tell a person they found a big sum of money and will split it with you if you make a payment in good faith. There is often a second person involved who will act as a professional like a banker or lawyer to add legitimacy.

Charity scams are huge! They are increasingly targeting seniors; the worst ones targeting those with memory loss or dementia. If a charity calls on the phone, no matter what they ask don’t donate! It can be hard to say know to a fund that says they will help children or animals or some other cause, but many of these charities will end up donating only a small portion of the funds they raise and keep the rest for themselves. Sometimes, the callers claim to be charities and are actually fakes. Your best bet is to take down the name of the supposed charity and look them up on a site like Charity Navigator or Charity Watch that tracks charities and their finances.

Resources
Charity Watch
Charity Navigator
Senior Frauds– FBI
Top 10 Financial Scams Targeting Seniors – National Council on Aging


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Best New Year Resolutions

It seems like the New Year is the best time for people to start new goals. You can start them anytime throughout the year, but it seems like starting it on the first day of the new year is the most popular starting point.

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If you are one of the many millions of people who plan to make (and actually stick) to some New Year’s resolutions, then you’ve come to the right place. Do you have your resolutions written down yet? The first step towards achieving your goals to make them concrete. Sure, losing weight is a great goal but how do you plan to do this? Instead, make the goal to hit the gym 4 times a week, or cut out fast food.

Below are 10 of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, there are plenty more but these can help give you an idea of something you might want to work on. How many of them can you guess?

Top 10 New Years Resolutions for 2015
1. Lose weight
2. Getting organized
3. Spend less, save more
4. Enjoy life to the fullest
5. Staying fit and healthy
6. Learn something exciting
7. Quit smoking
8. Help others in their dreams
9. Fall in love
10. Spend more time with family
(According to Statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/ & University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology)

The problem with creating New Year’s resolution is that people tend to give them up quickly. It is well known in the gym industry that sign ups in January are very high and then tend to drop around February and March as people stop going. According to the data on Statistic Brain, only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolution. 75% of people will maintain their resolution the first week then the number drops to 46% after 6 months.

So how do you prevent this dropoff in regards to your own resolutions? Time Magazine put out a list of websites that can help with specific goals like doing yoga daily or forming good habits. Another tip is to find someone else with the same goal. Having a support system and someone to hold you accountable is a great way to stay on track. Keep a journal of your progress so you can see how your goals are fairing. You can also reward yourself when you stay on track, and punish yourself (no tv for a day or no soda at dinner for a week) when you don’t follow through.

Resolutions and goals are about discipline. If you can keep yourself focused and disciplined enough to keep going then you can be one of those 8% of Americans who actually completes their resolution!


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Airplane Travel Tips for Seniors

You may be going on vacation this Spring Break to visit friends and family. As a senior citizen, you may be traveling, or as a family member you may have your older relatives coming to visit. It is important to be prepared, especially for those requiring extra assistance, a bulkhead seat, food and drinks, or other necessities. Below are some tips to help you or your loved ones travel safely and comfortably by air.

suitcaseBook the Flight Early

Booking as early as possible ensures you can pick a comfortable seat, such as an exit row or bulkhead. This will allow you to have extra leg room and space to get in and out. At this time you should also be able to ask about extra assistance like a wheelchair or check the airline’s policy on medical equipment like oxygen tanks. You can also check the baggage policy, as many airlines have started charging for bags.

Bring the Proper Documents

Make sure if you are flying within the country you have a government-issued ID like a driver’s license that has your full name and birth date. If you are traveling out of the country a passport is required. Your ticket name must match that on your ID.

Security

For the easiest passage through security wear comfortable, easy to take off shoes. If you are over 75, you can keep on your shoes and jacket. Those using wheelchairs are generally allowed to skip the security line. Make sure to put your liquids in the required containers and a ziploc bag. This will need to be taken out of your bag during screening, so make sure it is easily accessible.

On the Plane

Make sure if you need to take medications that you buy a water before you head on the plane, or you can purchase some while in flight. Also bring food or purchase some so you don’t lose strength. If you have a long flight, make sure you get up every few hours and move around.

Getting Off the Plane

If you require assistance, you will need to wait til the rest of the plane debarks. At this time, someone from the airline will come assist you in debarking and help with your bags. They can escort you to the baggage claim and assist in getting your bags. Make sure your family knows where to meet you beforehand.


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The Best Cell Phones for Seniors

Best Cell Phones for Seniors

It is hard to imagine a time when we didn’t have constant access to our phones. When was the last time you had to use a payphone? Most of them are gone now, because cell phones have become so ubiquitous. For many senior citizens though, cell phones are difficult to get used to. The buttons on many are small, the screen text is hard to read, and there are many complicated menu settings. It is a great idea to get for family member a cell phone, as it will ensure you have constant contact with them. If they are required to stay in bed, it may be difficult for them to get up and reach their home phone. Below we will go over two of the best cell phones for seniors.

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Snapfon styles itself best cellphones for seniorsas “the cellphone for seniors”. The phone was designed with large buttons and numbers for those with less than optimal sight. There are simple menus, an LED flashlight, enhanced volume and speaker capabilities, and a speaking keypad. The phone is also hearing aid compatible. A large SOS emergency button on the back of the phone, if help for 3-5 seconds will alert up to five responders by voice and text. A loud siren also goes off, so anyone nearby can hear that the user is in need of help. The phone can be used on Snapfon’s plan or, for an extra charge, unlocked to be used on a GSM cell provider (not Verizon or Sprint).

Jitterbug 5best cellphones for seniors

This is a simple, affordable device is one of the best cell phones for seniors. The keypad features large numbers and buttons that are easy to see. They are even backlit so you can see them in the dark. You can use the Jitterbug with hearing aids (M4/T4). A great feature about this phone is that it can hold its charge in stand-by mode for up to 25 days. The screen features large text and the menu has Yes/No questions rather than a confusing menu. The phone also has a camera. The most basic plan starts at $14.99 a month.


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Top Exercises for Seniors

Top Exercises for Seniors

top exercises for seniorsHave you been looking for ways to get in shape? Get inspired with this list of the top exercises for seniors. These exercises are generally low impact and can be done without specialize equipment or the gym. The National Institutes of Health recommends focusing on four types of exercises:

Stretching: These exercises will help increase your range of motion, allowing you to do more.

Strength: Help build muscle and increase metabolism.

Endurance: These activities will increase your heart rate and breathing. They include walking, jogging, swimming, and more.

Balance: These exercises are important to prevent slips and falls. Almost 300,000 people are admitted for broken hips each year, most of them being seniors.

Strength Exercises

  • Arm Raises

These can be done with or without weights. It involves sitting in a chair with your back straight. Hold  your hands straight down with your palms facing inward. Raise your arms from your side to shoulder height. Repeat this 8-15 times, whichever is most comfortable.

  • Knee flexion

Stand with your back straight, holding something stable for balance. Bend one knee slowly so your foot lifts behind you. Hold this position then lower your foot. Repeat this on each leg about 8-15 times.

Balance Exercises

  • Side Leg Raises

Stand with your back straight behind a table or chair. Hold the chair or table for balance and slowly lift one leg about 6-12 inches off the ground. Keep your feet facing forward, don’t point your toe down. Lower your leg and then repeat with the other leg. Do this about 8-15 times on each leg.

  • Heel-to-Toe

Find an area to walk in a straight line. Put your heel just in front of the toes on your other foot. Each time you step they should be touching. This will help improve balance tremendously.

Endurance Exercises

  • Walking briskly on a level surface

Be sure you are dressed appropriately. If the weather is hot, wear light color clothing. If it is warm, bring a coat or jacket, hat, gloves, or scarf if necessary. Make sure your shoes fit properly and are comfortable.

  • Swimming

If you have a pool or live near one, then you should be swimming a few times a week. This is a great, low impact exercise that works out your whole body. Be sure to buy goggles so you don’t irritate your eyes underwater.

Stretching Exercises

  • Tricep Stretch

Grab a towel and hold one end in your right hand. Raise and bend your right arm to allow the towel to drape down, hold this position. Reach behind your lower back and grab the bottom of the towel with your left hand. Move your left hand higher up the towel, pulling your right arm down. Go up only as far as is comfortable. Reverse the position and repeat, holding the stretch for 10-30 seconds.

Let us know if you have any more top exercises for seniors! We’d love to hear from you.


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Mall Walking: Frequently Asked Questions

Mall Walking Guide

Mall walkingSurely you love to walk on those dry, cool evenings, but how often do we get such perfect weather? Sometimes it’s rainy, sunny, or blisteringly cold weather, especially this time of year, that can prevent you from enjoying the outdoors. Luckily, some creative person came up with the idea of mall walking. Mall walking is beneficial because of the air-conditioned, enclosed space, level surface, and availability of drinks and snacks. The mall also offers many places to sit comfortably and use the restroom. Check out these frequently asked questions about mall walking.

Do all malls have mall walking programs?

Not necessarily. You may want to call your local mall to see if they do. If not, there may be some local groups that participate in mall walking.

How long should I be mall walking?

It is recommended to walk at least 30 minutes, if not more. If you can, you should be walking every day. As you continue your walking routine you will notice that your breathing should be getting better. You will also be able to walk longer distances the more you walk.

When is the best time to walk?

This largely depends on your mall. Some malls get very crowded during certain points in the day, and it is best to avoid walking during these times. Early morning is usually a good time to beat the crowds, especially on weekends.

Are there rules for mall walking?

Generally no, but you may want to ask management at your local mall. Otherwise it is best to be courteous to other shoppers and avoid running into anyone.

Do I need to warm up?

Before doing any exercise it is recommended that you warm up and stretch. This helps loosen your muscles and prepare your body for walking. Warm up for about 5 minutes before you begin.

If my mall doesn’t have a mall walking program, can I start one?

Be sure to ask management at your mall, but it is most likely that you can. You should ask to post fliers in the mall about your walking group, or even see if the mall can open a little early for your group to begin before shoppers arrive.


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Travel Tips for Seniors

Travel Tips for Seniors

travel tips for seniorsThe Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s holiday periods are among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. During the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a ­destination 50 miles or more away) increases by 54 percent, and during the Christmas/New Year’s Holiday period the number rises by 23 percent, compared to the average number for the remainder of the year. And although heavy media attention focuses on crowded airports and bus and train stations on the Wednesday before and Sunday after Thanksgiving, when personal vehicle trips are added to the mix the National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) reveals that Thanksgiving Day is actually a heavier long-distance travel day than Wednesday.

But, getting older doesn’t mean you have to stop traveling. Now is probably the best time for you to get out there and see the world. There are many discounts you can take advantage of at museums and other attractions. Traveling through the airport is now easier than ever, especially with the added convenience of wheelchair assistance. You can book your whole trip online or contact a travel agent to assist you. Here are some travel tips for seniors on how to maximize your experience other cities, states, and countries.

  • Check out elderhostel.com. This is a budget friendly site offering affordable rooms during your travels.
  • Utilize sites like Kayak and Hipmunk. These sites allow you to compare different airline costs, getting you the best deal for your flight.
  • Medication. Be sure you are well-stocked for your medication.
  • Rolling luggage. If you are worried about lugging bags through the airport, make sure you get one on wheels.
  • Request a wheelchair. If you have a hard time walking long distances, it is a good idea to request a wheelchair at the airport. Wheelchairs also have the added benefit of allowing you to skip security lines.
  • Ground-Floor room. If you have difficulty walking up and down stairs, request that your hotel put you on the ground floor when you make your initial reservation.
  • Take advantage of discounts. Many activities like museums, plays, and tours offer discounts for seniors. See if you can snag some for your trip.
  • Don’t overexert yourself. You just got to a new country and already want to see and do everything. Pick your top three or four activities and focus on them first. This way you won’t tire yourself or your companion(s) out just on the first day. If you feel weak, be sure to sit and rest for a while
  • Drink water. It is important to stay hydrated while you travel. In other countries, the water may not be as safe as you’d like. In these instances you should purchase only bottled water.
  • Travel Insurance. If you want to be extra cautious, you may want to invest in travel insurance. This can be a lifesaver in the event of an emergency. Some of these plans will pay for emergency evacuation by air back to your home country. Without insurance this evacuation can put you in debt.

If you have some travel tips for seniors feel free to share!