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Aging Parents

Located in United States.
by on February 1, 2021
By Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Attorney, AgingParents.com Covid restrictions for those over 65 have greatly impacted lonely seniors stuck at home. Widowed aging parents may suffer most, with no one to touch them, be with them, or pay much regular attention to them. Some seek company on internet dating sites for those over 50 years of age. Know the risks if you have an elder in your family who is lonely and seeking company on the net. Scams by criminals seeking to exploit elders who are alone are nothing new. But with so much pandemic related isolation, loneliness is more acute than ever. Schemes to extract money from lonely seniors rise up in new ways. If your aging parent is online looking for love, be on the lookout for potentially harmful connections they could be making. Here are some safety steps you can consider. Watch for signs of The Sweetheart Scam. It is characterized by a determined thief seeking out your aging parent, and insinuating him/herself into the elder’s life, using flattery, praise, proclaiming how wonderful the elder is and learning as much personal information as possible about the elder. At some point the scammer asks for money or financial information. Caution your loved ones about any request for money or other personal financial information. Listen carefully to your aging parent’s description of a new love interest. Red flags emerge. A week after meeting an elder, the scammer professes to be in love with the elder. Pronouncements of love very early in the relationship are another warning sign. Loneliness creates vulnerability. The scammer knows just what to say. Your loved one falls for it because if feels nice to have attention and the scammer relieves the feelings of isolation and loneliness. Your loved one can get ripped off and the “sweetheart” quickly disappears with money or ID theft. Monitor your aging parent’s email. If your family member is looking for love and companionship, predators know this. They get on dating sites, post a false picture and pretend to be interested. If you can learn your parents’ passwords, you can sign in and see who is contacting them. Yes, you’re being a busybody but ask anyone whose lonely mom or dad has been swindled and they’ll tell you they wished they had been a busybody and prevented it. Trusting your aging parent may not be enough. Do surveillance on the new “friend.” It’s too easy to lie on the internet. If your single Mom or Dad claims to have a new boyfriend/ girlfriend, find out the name of the friend and check that person out. When you do a simple Google search for a real person using a real name, you are likely to find out something about them. If there is absolutely no internet presence, no photo, nothing to identify the person, it’s a bad sign. Using a fake name and/or photo is one way a predator sneaks into a vulnerable person’s life and tricks them into giving up money, or other things of value. You can do a reverse image Google search on the photo the “friend” posts (Google.com/images). A fake stock photo is a tipoff of a scammer at work. They disappear quickly after the theft, leaving no trace. Any crisis breeds new opportunities for criminals. This pandemic is ripe for exploitation of many kinds. It’s wise to watch over aging parents who are using the internet, and may try dating apps or sites promising the match them with a companion or date. It may be just fine but there are these dangers to bear in mind as well. Vigilant family members can protect a naive family elder from harm by taking action. If you think this may be happening to your aging parent and you aren’t sure what to do, you can get our professional advice at AgingParents.com. Don’t wait until your loved one has been ripped off! Understand what you can do now by empowering yourself with our guidance about keeping them safe. Contact us: 866-962-4464 or 415-459-1203, or at  https://agingparents.com/contact-us/  
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by on December 15, 2020
This is the strangest holiday season of a lifetime, isn’t it? We get warnings about not visiting during holidays of all kinds and the rates of infection keep going up. Given that it’s inarguable now that the rates of infection by Covid-19, hospitalizations and ICU admissions are worse that ever, we have to consider the painful question before us: is it worse to visit our elders this season or is it worse to stay away? It’s individual, as situations vary. We see our aging parents, perhaps on Zoom, lonely and in need of company. We can talk on the phone with them, but there are many limitations. One 98 year old client of ours at AgingParents.com can speak on the phone but he’s quite hard of hearing. Calls tend to be brief. And he gets confused by Zoom. His company is his caregivers. At least they can come to his home and he can afford to pay for in-home care. Some seniors have little contact with others now in person. Technology is sometimes difficult enough for Boomers, and imagine how odd it feels for those Boomers’ parents, many of whom are in their 80s and 90s or older. For those with dementia, it is even worse. Difficulty learning new information is a characteristic of dementia and learning how to be on a video call is definitely new information for many. Yet, the emotions aging parents with dementia or other conditions feel are just as real as they are for anyone else. No one likes to be lonely and cut off from whatever fun they used to enjoy before the pandemic. Lonely aging parents need to be protected from exposure to Covid-19 When anyone asks me for advice about which is worse, possible exposure to Covid-19 from an asymptomatic person or serious depression and loneliness, I say possible exposure to disease. At least we have some ways we can address loneliness, as well as depression. We can make those phone calls to aging loved ones who are away from us, even if they’re very short because of hearing loss, confusion or anything else. We can try video calls when anyone in the house is capable of helping with logging on or using technology like FaceTime. We can coordinate with our aging parents’ physician, in the event that they are looking so depressed you are very worried about it. Medication does work for most depressed folks and Medicare pays for standard medications to treat depression. Adult children may need to be advocates for their loved ones about this. It’s unlikely that an aging person is going to tell their family they’re depressed and need medication to get by during isolation. Family can step up and ask for an evaluation of depression symptoms from the doctor. It makes sense to take the edge off painful feelings when we can, even temporarily, as current isolation finally has an end in sight. Pharmaceuticals for treating depression are readily available and they work with medical supervision for kind, dosage and eventually getting off the medications. What we know about Covid-19 now is what we knew early on when the disease ravaged nursing homes. Elders are by no means the only ones getting sick, but they have the worst mortality rate of any age group. Exposing them is not worth the risk of a holiday visit, painful as it is to forego it. They are just too vulnerable. For families who can’t bear the thought of not seeing Mom, Dad, or a grandparent during times when families always try to be together, consider that you could be saving lives if you refrain from the visit you want to have with them. I take comfort in knowing that apart from healthcare workers and those on the front lines of the fight against Covid-19, elders will be among the first to get the vaccine. That means that they have a better chance to get in front with protection and can avoid this life-threatening illness sooner than younger people can. The takeaway is that this holiday season is the time to grit your teeth and stay away from your aging parents unless you already live with them. It will not be long before we can use the first vaccines to save them from getting Covid-19. Meanwhile, do the best you can with the phone, gifts sent in the mail, flowers, cards, letters, and possibly video calls with them. Importantly, contact your aging loved one’s doctor and ask for an evaluation if what you see looks like serious depression. Appropriate medications can lift the spirits, help people function better, and help them feel more inclined to participate in whatever is offered to keep them engaged. And for all of us with elders in our lives, hang on a little longer. The vaccine will help us end this pandemic and enable us to look forward to a much better holiday season with aging parents next time around. You can feel good about staying away, as it is truly a responsible and loving act to protect those most vulnerable in our families. Carolyn L. Rosenblatt, R. N, Elder Law Attorney, co-founder of AgingParents.com and AgingInvestor.com
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