Friday, 15 March 2019

Fraud Prevention Month

Did you know that March is Fraud Prevention Month? The more I read about people, especially seniors, who are duped but people who seem to think there is nothing wrong with tricking people out of their hard earned money, the more I think that every month should be Fraud Prevention Month.
We have all heard or received email scams telling us we inherited money; I've also received ones using someone's stolen email identity letting me know that they need money to get out a bad situation. And, everyone I know gets phone calls from fake CRA telling us we will go to jail unless we pay taxes that we supposedly owe. And it seems, these are all the tip of the iceberg. The list goes on... there is credit card fraud, debit card fraud, identity theft, etc.  
I do wonder if social media has resulted in an increased number of fraudsters because people put so much online that anyone searching up 'opportunity'  is able to garner a boat load of information on people just by looking at their profiles. For years there have been warnings not to post online that you are on vacation because you are setting yourself up for a house break in. Yet, we all know people who still love posting their vacation pictures all over Facebook. People let down their guard by thinking that 'only my friends' can see what I post.
I would hope that with all of the publicity out there about fraud and scams, most people are aware that this is happening and are wary of opening and responding to emails that do not sound quite right. And the same goes for those pesky CRA calls. But what about a senior who is unaware of the depth of the problem or are trusting enough to believe what they are told? 
This week in the news, there was a story of an older lady, who was tricked into sending someone thousands of dollars simply because she was under tremendous stress and didn't pay attention to the little things that would have tipped her off had she been stress-free. She had used UPS to send the money and when she realized she had been tricked, with the quick action of the staff at her local UPS depot who were able to stop the package in transit, she was able to recover the money in its entirety. She was lucky. But how many people, are not as fortunate? How many seniors are duped out of their savings by crooks who are able to find out enough details about a person to trick them into believing help is needed for someone they know and care about? 
From the plethora of articles online, it is clear that there are many people who have no problem tricking others and stealing their money. All we can do, is educate ourselves and others around us, about what is happening. If you hear of a new scam, let your network know. Let the seniors in your life know. Check out and Report fraud and scams if you know of someone who has been victimized. The only way to stop fraudsters, is to educate ourselves and others so no one falls prey to them. 

Friday, 1 March 2019

Fall Prevention in Seniors

          To say we've had a bad winter is an understatement. There have been days where going outside is treacherous and I am certain that the emergency rooms in every hospital are filled with people who have fallen on the ice. For a senior, the prospect of a fall can be disastrous, especially if a broken bone is the result. We all know a story of someone elderly who broke a hip and ended up with severely compromised mobility and/or permanent disability/dependence.
          And weather isn't always the culprit. Not all falls happen outside. Often a senior can fall inside their home as a result of a slippery floor, an unsteady gait, or tripping hazards like area rugs. I know of people who refuse to use a cane or walker; and others who only use them outside even though they need them indoors as well. Few think they will fall; and most think that if they do, they can get up without a problem and without broken bones.
          So what's the solution? I suppose prevention is always the ideal and to that end there are Fall Prevention classes that could help. However, as with most 'bad' things that 'may' happen, we are all in denial that we could be subject to a debilitating fall and, attending prevention classes means acknowledging that something could happen..... I would venture to guess that most people wouldn't attend such a class unless they or someone they know has taken a nasty spill and suffered as a result.
         If you know a senior who you are concerned about, be proactive and ask them if you can have an OT come to visit who can assess their home for hazards. At the very least, ensure there are no tripping hazards in the home; loose area rugs, wires, etc. Bathroom safety is a big issue too - install bath bars if they will allow you to, so they have some support if the floor or tub is slippery. Speak to their family doctor about your concerns and arrange for a referral to the local LHIN where they can send in an OT to do a safety assessment. Sometimes a doctor the senior trusts will have better luck getting them to accept an assessment than you might!
        In one area in Southern Ontario, when an EMT gets a call about someone who has fallen, an OT goes along to assess the situation and discuss prevention. What a great concept! And one that should be rolled out across the province. With advancing technology, I have read stories of all sorts of devices that can detect falls or provide hip padding so falling doesn't result in breaks. We can only hope that in time, prevention with be the norm rather than anecdotal stories we read in the news. 
        For seniors living alone, encourage them to get an emergency button they wear that they can press if they do fall, so help will come quickly. Encourage them to exercise - many local community or seniors centres have exercise programs for seniors. Exercise has been shown to be good for your bones, balance and fall prevention.
       The key to preventing unnecessary falls and injuries is to encourage safety and be proactive about prevention.