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Aging Life Care Association’s Amy Cameron O’Rourke Featured as Guest Expert in #ElderCareChat Discussion on How Families Can Prepare for Aging

Aging Life Care Association’s Amy O’Rourke Featured in #ElderCareChat Discussion on How Families Can Prepare for Aging as Guest Expe

amy-cameron-orourke-ALCA #ElderCareChat 4/12/17Don’t Wait for a Crisis to Strike – Top Tips to Prepare for Aging

Aging Life Care Association® was honored to join last week’s #ElderCareChat, with our current president Amy Cameron O’Rourke serving as an expert panelist. O’Rourke engaged 40 participants in a lively Twitter conversation about how families can prepare for aging versus reacting to a crisis.

The one-hour #ElderCareChat illuminated the Aging Life Care Association’s vision of a world where adults and their families live well as they face the challenges of aging proactively rather than reactively.

The Twitter session, which generated more than 3 million impressions, underscored the fact that many seniors and their families fail to consider the realities of aging until there’s a ElderCareChat analytics 4/12/17crisis. As O’Rourke shared, death can be an uncomfortable topic, and families would rather not talk about losing someone they love. Plus, adult children want to honor their parents’ independence and avoid stepping on toes.

But, as O’Rourke and other participants pointed out, the consequences of waiting for an emergency to make plans for aging can be dire—fewer choices, higher costs, less input from the senior loved one, increased family tension, and even unintended or aggressive medical treatments.

Instead, O’Rourke recommended families proactively prepare for aging by building a team of professionals, including a financial planner, elder law attorney, and an Aging Life Care Professional. Such professionals can explain options for senior housing and care, and help families determine what suits their particular needs and resources.

Though it may cost money upfront, O’Rourke noted that preparation can save money in the long run. What’s more, preparing for aging saves families from having to make difficult decisions without the input of their senior loved one. Here are some highlights of the thoughtful discussion that took place over the #ElderCareChat hour (scroll through to view all):

#ElderCareChat is presented by OurParents.com and sister sites SeniorAdvisor.com and VeteranAid.org as a forum to share resources, experiences, and expertise in eldercare. #ElderCareChat meets mid-month; the next chat will be Wednesday, May 17, 2017, at 1pm ET.

To find an Aging Life Care Professional®, visit aginglifecare.org to search for an expert by zip code, city or state.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

sibling rivalry, aging parents

Sibling Rivalry and Aging Parents: 5 Tips to Keep the Peace

Often when adult siblings receive a crisis alert that elderly Mom or Dad is sick, it is common for old roles and competitiveness to flare. How quickly an adult child can revert into acting like a kid when siblings get together. There is just something about being with brothers and sisters that can send you into time travel, from age 45 to age 5 in a snap, and subsequently, from mature to immature.  

Sibling Rivalry, Aging Parents, and Running the Emotional Gauntlet

by Vivian McLaurin, BA – Aging Life Care Association® Member

 

Sibling rivalry, also known as competition between sisters and brothers for a parent’s attention, may change over time. Unique relationships can strengthen or weaken on the road from childhood to adulthood. Physical and emotional distances offer adult siblings new opportunities to develop respectful, loving, caring relationships. Sometimes though, a few embers of competitiveness or jealousy burn low.

Birth order can create lifelong labels that defy age, education, and experience. With that status often come a pre-defined set of roles. As Jane Mersky Leder wrote: “our siblings push buttons that cast us in roles we felt sure we had let go of long ago — the baby, the peacekeeper, the caretaker, the avoider. It doesn’t seem to matter how much time has elapsed or how far we’ve traveled.”  

Family dynamics are a powerful force, and when combined with the stress and fear of losing a parent, can launch (or re-ignite) sibling feuds and hurt. How adult children navigate the stormy times with older or younger sibling depends on many factors including his or her own support system, self-awareness, dedication to a greater good, and emotional maturity — easy to say, hard to implement, and perhaps challenging to stay the course.

Aging parents play a leading role in sibling dynamics. However, it is neither wise nor fair to count on Mom or Dad to mediate their grown-up children’s feuds. Adult children need to acknowledge that they may not have had the perfect childhood or the perfect parents. Be aware of the possibility of pitting one child against another, manipulation, and the age-old comparison game.

How can siblings work together during their parent’s aging journey?

1. Hope for the best and expect less – less in terms of personal recognition, equity, fame, glory, money, family heirlooms, etc. Aim for selflessness; it is a good look on everyone.

2. Respect legal and fiduciary assignments that parents have executed via power of attorney documents, wills, trusts, HIPAA release authorizations, etc. whether you personally agree or not. Decision-making authority and money are two topics that can stir conflict in the best of families. If your parent has not made his wishes clear by executing written advance directives, consult an attorney so your parent can put these essential documents in place.

3. Jobs for everyone! Help your siblings and yourself by looking at the tasks that must be accomplished. Match those tasks with individual strengths. Instead of forcing your brother to stay at the hospital with Mom when everyone knows that he is squeamish, ask him to mow the grass or hire a housekeeper.

If you and your siblings cannot reach consensus quickly, phone a friend or a pastor or a family elder or an Aging Life Care Professional® – someone that can help you make assignments without starting a family squabble.

4. Practice self-care. It is hard to drink from an empty glass. Stress, anxiety, fear are ingredients for a perfect sibling storm. If you are a long-distance adult child or if parental love is not the common denominator in your family, send a proxy. Professional care managers are trained to facilitate during a crisis. Aging Life Care Professionals often serve as a “surrogate” sibling and can become the glue that holds the family together through the crisis.

5. Now is not the time. An aging parent emergency is not necessarily the time to give in to family dysfunction. Even if a parent or sibling is on your last nerve, walk (or run) away from that scene.

The common ground may be love for your parent. Meet there. Even if it’s true that your brother always received more attention, gifts, love, etc., it is bad form to expect your parent to balance the scales during a health crisis.

“The principle needs to be this: Whatever the reasons for your feelings you will have to find civilized solutions.” – Selma Fraiburg

About the author: Vivian McLaurin is a care manager with Preferred Living Solutions in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area. Quality care for older adults, support for family caregivers and aging in America are personal passions for Vivian. She has worked with the aging population since 2013 and as a family caregiver most of her adult life. Vivian serves as a facilitator for an Alzheimer’s and other dementia caregivers support group in Cary, NC. She can be reached at vivian@preferredlivingsolutions.com or on Facebook.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association® and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Living with Traumatic Brain Injury

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and according to the Brain Injury Association of American, at least 5.3 million Americans live with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) related disabilities. #NotAloneinBrainInjury

Find Help Adjusting to Life with a TBI

As part of Brain Injury Awareness Month, ALCA is sharing the results of a survey that takes a closer look at cases of TBI being managed by Aging Life Care Professionals. The survey of aging experts  illustrates the prevalence and causes of TBI among the aging population and identifies the challenges associated with their care.

Sixty-three percent of surveyed Aging Life Care Professionals™ said their caseloads include individuals with TBI. Although Aging Life Care™ experts typically care for aging adults, the survey revealed that at least one provides services for a nine-year-old child. The majority of cases (96%) included adults in the 41-80 age range. The overwhelming cause of these injuries was falls (52%) and auto accidents (51%). Other causes included other accidental blunt trauma (28%), sports-related injury (8%), and violence (7%).

The strategies for treatment most in demand from clients, according to those participating in the survey included:

  • Advocacy
  • stress relief for family
  • therapy/support

Ranked closely behind:

  • assistance with placement (i.e. nursing home, assisted living, memory care)
  • communications
  • stress relief for families
  • financial planning
  • managing the relationship role changes

Aging Life Care Professionals also collaborate with other professionals in caring for TBI clients, primarily physicians and physical, occupational, or speech therapists. Also consulted were neuropsychologists, attorneys, caregiver agencies, and mental health providers.

The biggest challenge for families whose loved one has suffered a TBI was overwhelmingly identified as issues relating to behavior changes and accepting the “new person,” a “new personality, a “new normal.” One respondent identified it as, “The loss of role of the person who used to be more capable … and the strain of the ongoing demise of the person.” This type of loss has been called an “ambiguous loss” (a term coined by family therapist and author Pauline Boss). It means “having the person’s physical presence but psychological absence. The person is there, but emotionally or cognitively missing.”

“Aging Life Care Professionals know the local resources and specialists that can help TBI patients find a ‘new normal’,” says Dianne McGraw, Aging Life Care Manager. “From coordinating services to offering caregiving coaching, we give families the tools they need to live an optimal life.”

If you need help navigating care options or need strategies to manage the adjustments to daily life, find an Aging Life Care™ expert near you at aginglifecare.org.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

My parent is dying

Managing the Death of a Parent – A Guide from the Experts in Aging Well

When we we talk about coping with the loss of a parent, most often it is in the context of dealing with life after a parent dies. But what about managing the death of a parent and how to help them during the process? Start with this help from the experts in aging well. 

My Parent is Dying, How Can I Get Through This?

by Lisa Laney, MSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association® Member

 

Our lives today seem to be getting so very complicated. Confusion and anxiety bubble up as we try to manage what had been, in history of humankind, normal and understandable life transitions.

The death of a parent is a tremendous loss and shifts us into a new life chapter — that of being more senior ourselves, regardless of our age. We feel the responsibility of making good decisions, including decisions around the care of our parent as they are dying.

Most likely you already juggle many responsibilities – your home, work, perhaps children still in the home, your own finances, and on and on. How do you take on the added responsibility of ramping up your knowledge about the foreign subject of care of the dying, while participating and guiding the most appropriate support for your parent in their last chapter?

Following are some “to-do’s” and questions to consider – a toolkit of sorts.
  • Consider professional assistance. Know, first, that employing an adjunct who is an experienced professional will provide you with reassurance as the journey continues. The care of a loved one involves many turns in the river and there is no prescribed one-size-fits all process. An Aging Life Care Professional (sometimes called a geriatric care manager) can assist with unforeseen issues as they arise while also providing as a boots-on-the-ground “first responder” of sorts, or just as a consultant for you by phone should you need. Through a thorough assessment an Aging Life Care Manager can help with:
    • Securing and managing in-home care providers
    • Obtaining necessary durable medical equipment
    • Determining if any home modifications are needed
  • Learn the difference between Palliative Care and Hospice Care. Don’t hesitate obtaining the appropriate service for your parent. Some areas have multiple providers, so do your homework.
  • Research the diagnosis of your parent. For example, if it is Congestive Heart Failure, ask the physician what to expect and read materials about the course of this disease. How We Die by Sherwin B. Nuland is a good read in this realm. Don’t be afraid. To learn the expected process of the disease allows you to prepare yourself (and your parent) for the upcoming needs.
  • Have detailed conversations with your parent about what they do or do not want at the end of their life. Questions to ask:
    • To die at home?
    • To die in a hospice facility?
    • To be alert or if pain medicines are required to be medicated even if it means they are less alert?
    • Are there people they do or do not want present as they decline?
  • Ask your parent if they would agree to have your contact information on their physician’s HIPAA document so that you can have direct conversations with their doctor.
  • Consider setting up an online tool (such as http://lotsahelpinghands.com) to organize well-wishers who wish to provide tangible support.
  • Get a grasp of your parent’s finances. If they have an estate planner, make contact as this person will be of great support. Other questions to ask that help determine resources for covering costs of care and funeral expenses:
    • Does your parent have a long-term care insurance plan?
    • Was your parent a veteran?
    • Have they purchased a prepaid burial plan?
  • Consider securing a schedule of counseling visits to help you manage this upcoming loss while at the same time managing life – your own and the others who depend upon you. In this journey, taking care of your own self is just as important as caring for your parent.

An Aging Life Care Manager can provide you with direction on any or all of the above. Their knowledge of local resources and providers can greatly reduce the amount of time (and stress) you spend searching around to secure the best supports for you and your parent. This professional can also provide white glove communication between Hospice, in-home care providers, physicians, and family.

In fact, it is prudent to consider holding a Care Conference between these parties early on – and continue as needed – to assure all involved understand the vital nuances of the specific needs of your parent. The Aging Life Care Manager can serve as the facilitator for such meetings and send summary emails to the interested/involved family members as allowed by your parent.

With care and support, you can navigate and live through this difficult chapter in your life.

About the author: Lisa Laney, MSW, CMC is the owner of Mountain Premier Care Navigation in Asheville, North Carolina, and has worked with the aging population in the healthcare system since 1988. She serves as the facilitator for the Asheville Parkinson’s Support Group and is on the Board of Directors for the Aging Life Care Association.  She can be reached at lisa@premiercarenavigation.com or on Facebook


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Parents Aging at Home

Five Tips to Maintain an Aging Parent’s Independence at Home

Have you found yourself worried that something isn’t wrong with your aging parent, worried that you are overlooking a problem? Rather than wait for a crisis to strike, take time to plan for how you can maintain your loved one’s  safety and quality of life. Here are five strategies to keep status quo. 

When An Aging Parent is Fine…Strategies to Maintain Status Quo

by Miriam Zucker, LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM – Member of the Aging Life Care Association®

 

As an Aging Life Care Specialist™, I’m often contacted by family members asking for reassurance that they are not overlooking a need of an aging loved one. Because these are not emergency or crisis calls, these meetings give me an opportunity to discuss current care and future planning.

During a thorough assessment, I evaluate a broad array of areas including medical history, cognitive function, financial status, familial and community supports, as well as status of critical health and legal documents. When these questions don’t raise any red flags, I find myself having to reassure the family that they fortunate. But, at the same time, like a good scout – be prepared and practice prevention.

So just what is it I am telling families? It’s something like car maintenance. No squeaking brakes, or dashboard lights on, but you still bring your car in for maintenance. Some older adults, if you excuse the analogy, are just like that. Blessed with good health – realistic and accepting of their needs – they can remain safely in their homes.

To maintain status quo, Aging Life Care Specialists suggest five strategies:

1. A medic alert pendant or bracelet. Look for a system that has a fall alert built into its sensor. Unlike the commercials, there is no need to dial the phone, the sensor picks up on the fall and calls the designated numbers immediately.

2. Maintain a current list of all medications (and know where to find the list).

3. A notation of any food, medication, or latex allergies .

4. Prominently display a Community DNR (this is different than a hospital DNR).

5. A daily check-in call. Such calls allow for an adult child (or designated caller) to pick up on the slightest of changes in a parent’s cognitive status. Infections in older adults travel at lightning speed with altered mental status as one of the hallmarks that something is wrong. Urinary tract infections are notorious for causing this altered status.

One particular service that facilitates much of the above is Vial of Life . The Vial of Life program helps individuals compile their complete medical information and have it ready in their home for emergency personnel to reference.

These small but essential steps go a long way in helping an aging adult maintain his/her independence while at the same time living safely in their beloved home. Don’t wait for an emergency to seek the help of an Aging Life Care Specialist. Connect with one now to start the assessment process and build a maintenance plan that maximizes quality of life for everyone. Search for an expert at aginglifecare.org.

About the author: Miriam Zucker, LMSW, ACSW, C-ASWCM, is an Aging Life Care Specialist practicing in Westchester County, New York. A social worker by training, she also serves on the faculty of The Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity where she helped found the Certificate Program in Geriatric Care Management.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

aging crisis, long-distance caregiving, care management

Managing Crisis Situations: One Aging Life Care Professional’s Story

What happens when your aging father dies and you discover he’s been covering up your mother’s dementia and declining health? Add to that…you live three states away. What do you do? Who could possibly understand the crisis  you have uncovered? And who can help?

Help! My Father Died and He was Hiding my Mother’s Dementia

Here ALCA member Crystal Littlejohn, MHSA, CMC, CSA of Peoria, Arizona tells of how she helped an adult daughter manage the care of a resistant mother with dementia. The daughter had no idea how much her father had hidden about her mother’s illness. When the daughter arrived in town after the unexpected death of her father, she found herself dealing with an overwhelming crisis.

Managing crisis situations is something Aging Life Care Professionals™ do often, and something that they do very well. The entire skill set of an Aging Life Care Professional can be put to the test in answering just one phone call.

 

Preventing a Crisis

Many crisis situations can be avoided or minimized. Are you…

  • Caring for a loved one?
  • Living at a distance from your aging parents?
  • Planning for your own future care?

Connect with an Aging Life Care Professional™ today and work together to build a plan of care that leads you to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those you love. You’ll reduce worry, stress and time off of work when you work with an Aging Life Care Professional.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

tips for traveling with older people

Six Tips for Aging Travelers

Just because someone’s reached a certain age, it doesn’t mean they can no longer travel. Traveling with aging loved ones just take a little more planning and preparation. These tips for aging travelers will make traveling and vacationing more comfortable and less stressful for all involved.

There’s No Age Limit on Travel

By Patricia Charles, LMSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member

 

Whether you have fond memories of lazy days on the beach or adventures in exotic locales, now that your loved one is getting older taking a family vacation may seem difficult. You may even wonder if your days of family vacations are over.

While your family vacation will be different than before, it doesn’t mean you can’t travel with an aging loved one. Let’s explore some tips to make vacationing easier for the older traveler.

1. Schedule a check-up.

An important first step is to make sure your loved one is cleared for travel by his or her primary care doctor, especially if they have a health condition that requires accommodation. Visiting the doctor before travels allows time to assess and address any medical conditions that could hinder travel plans.

If travel is taking you out of the country, your loved one may need vaccines recommended for the countries being visited. Check the Center for Disease Control for the most updated information on necessary shots required for specific countries. Take this information with you when you visit the doctor.

2. Compile a list of medications in advance.

Ask the doctor for specific travel tips as well as any necessary medications. In addition to keeping up  regular medication regimen while traveling, the doctor may also recommend additional medications such as remedies for motion sickness, altitude illness, or diarrhea. Remember – it’s important to watch out for possible drug interactions between daily medications and any new medications that are recommended for travel!

If you are checking luggage, it’s recommended to travel with medications in a carry-on in case checked luggage is lost. Pack enough medicine for the duration of the trip, plus a few days extra in case of travel delays.  Additionally, if your loved one has health concerns and you are traveling out of the country you may want to consider purchasing a travel health insurance package.

3. Strategize your flight times.

Older adults may not have the stamina to handle multiple connections and/or travelling early morning or late at night.  Booking a nonstop flight reduces travel time, while planning a mid-morning or early afternoon departure can help avoid fatigue before you’ve reached your destination.  Anticipate your loved one might be anxious about the travel experience, so talk to their doctor about a mild anxiety medication. Even the most experienced travelers can find travel to be an anxiety-inducing experience.

4. Request assistance ahead of time.

Before you travel, consider accommodations your loved one may need. Does he or she use a wheelchair or need special seating? You can request an escort from airport staff to help get your loved one to their seat, stow their bags, or simply enjoy the ease of boarding before other passengers.

Seniors are able to request assistance in the airport from the time they arrive to the time they board,  and can request assistance getting to the gate by asking at the check-in desk for a ride on a cart or assistance with a wheelchair. Additionally, seniors requiring special assistance can board before other travelers through priority boarding.

Don’t forget to plan for accommodations at the destination as well! Contact hotels or tour companies to make sure they can handle your needs.

5. Plan activities sparingly.

When traveling with an older loved one you may have to take it slower than you normally would, accounting for time to rest and relax . Everyone is different, but in many cases planning just one activity before lunch is enough and include downtime between lunch and dinner. This same schedule often works well for families with young children, so inter-generational travel can work out surprisingly well!

Think about planning indoor activities, whether to account for possible bad weather or extreme temperatures, or because your loved one simply doesn’t feel up to going out one day.  Building in time for watching old movies, playing card games, or creating a memory book of your travels are all possible activities.

If your loved one receives care at home and you will be traveling without hired assistance, speak with the caregiver  to get some ideas about things they like to do, as well as their daily routine. And don’t forget to ask about favorite foods and snacks!

6. Consider hiring help.

An Aging Life Care Professional™ can help you develop a personalized plan for your travels including identifying potential challenges and options to make the best of your travels – even with medical and functional challenges. For example, a care manager can help connect you with companion help at your destination, secure durable medical equipment, and ensure you have appropriate documentation and accommodations in case of emergencies.

Finally, don’t forget to have the time of your life.  Safe travels!

 

About the author: Patricia Charles, LMSW, CMC is the Lead Training Consultant with SeniorBridge. She  has been a social work professional in nonprofit and philanthropic organizations for the past 30 years and a member of ALCA since 2008. She is a highly skilled Aging Life Care™ Manager, as well as a lecturer and educator. You can email Patricia at pcharles@seniorbridge.com and follow SeniorBridge on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

image: Stock illustration ID: 387417733

Aging Life Care Managers Find Solutions to Challenging Aging Life Care Questions

Challenging Aging Life Care Needs

The long-term care journey is confusing. As a spouse, family member, or concerned neighbor of an aging loved one you may feel overwhelmed by the role of caregiver or decision-maker.  And if you were placed in this role as a result of an emergency health crisis or due to an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, the questions and decisions grow more complicated.

Often we are “too close” to a situation or problem to see clearly. In this video, Aging Life Care Professional™  Amy O’Rourke illustrates how a holistic approach and assessment found the simple answer to a complicated elder care situation. Having a professional, third-party assessment not only resolved housing needs but also revealed possible unnecessary medical treatment.

Finding Answers to Difficult Elder Care Needs

Working with families, the expertise of Aging Life Care Professionals provides the answers at a time of uncertainty. Their guidance leads families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for those they love, thus reducing worry, stress and time off of work for family caregivers through:

  • Assessment and monitoring
  • Planning and problem-solving
  • Education and advocacy
  • Family caregiver coaching

To find an Aging Life Care Professional to help you find the answers to complicated questions, visit aginglifecare.org.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Your Aging Parents are at Risk of Fraud during Tax Season: What you can do about it!

Protect Aging Parents from Tax Scams

Being caught in tax scams can happen to anyone even though most of us think we’re too smart to get fleeced.  Unfortunately, even the most cautious person can get ripped-off.  When older adults are defrauded, the effects can be devastating. With tax season officially underway, here’s what you need to know to protect aging parents from tax scams.

Your Aging Parents are at Risk of Fraud during Tax Season: What you can do about it!

by Jullie Gray, MSW, LICSW, CMC – Aging Life Care Association™ Member and Fellow of the Leadership Academy

One insidious fraud making the rounds during tax season involves IRS impersonators.  Swindlers claiming to be from the IRS tell intended victims they owe taxes and must pay using a pre-paid debit card, money order or a wire transfer. They threaten those who refuse to pay with a grand jury indictment, immediate arrest, deportation or loss of a business or driver’s license.

The Treasury Inspector General, J. Russell George warns, “As the tax filing season begins, it is critical that all taxpayers continue to be wary of unsolicited telephone calls and e-mails from individuals claiming to be IRS and Treasury employees”. He described the imposters as, “aggressive and relentless.” The TIGTA created this flyer to warn taxpayers against impersonation scams.

Aging makes us more vulnerable to being cheated

Researchers have shown that older people are especially vulnerable to being cheated. According to a study by Shelley E. Taylor, a professor of psychology at UCLA, changes in our brains as we age cause us to miss common cues that someone is untrustworthy.[1]  In another study, Larry Jacoby, professor of psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, found that older adults are far more likely than the younger adults to believe and “falsely remember” misinformation as correct thus leaving them more vulnerable to getting scammed.[2]

Despite the fact that older people are at high risk of being swindled, the FBI notes they are less likely to report being defrauded than younger people because they:

  • Don’t know who to report it to
  • Are too ashamed at having been scammed
  • May not know they have been conned
  • Are concerned about losing their independence if someone finds out
What you need to know about the IRS process

If there is a problem with a person’s taxes, the IRS issues notices by mail – not by phone. The IRS will never ask for payment by phone using a prepaid debit card, money order or wire transfer. Nor will they ask for a credit card number over the phone, request personal or financial information by e-mail, text, or any social media.

Don’t become a victim

Even the most cautious person can get ripped-off so remain vigilant, regardless of your age. Protect yourself and your parents by learning common tactics used by tax scam artists. Talk to your parents about the tricks and remind them that thieves often call or contact their victim several times to evaluate their memory and openness to their ploy.  The bad guys are looking for weakness and an opportunity to strike.

You can spot IRS imposters because they will:

  • Utilize an automated robocall machine
  • Use common names and fake IRS badge numbers
  • May know the last four digits of the victim’s social security number
  • Make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling
  • Aggressively demand immediate payment to avoid being criminally charged or arrested
  • Claim that hanging up the telephone will cause the immediate issuance of an arrest warrant for unpaid taxes
  • Send bogus IRS e-mails to support their scam
  • Call a second or third time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles, and the caller ID again supports their claim

If you or your parents are contacted by someone claiming to be from the IRS:

  • Hang up immediately
  • Forward scam e-mails to phishing@irs.gov
  • Do not open any attachments or click on any links in those e-mails
  • If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
  • If you do not owe taxes, fill out the “IRS Impersonation scam” form on the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s (TIGTA) website, www.tigta.gov, or call TIGTA at 800-366-4484.
  • You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.
The cost of being scammed is enormous for aging adults

Financial exploitation of any kind takes a heavy toll on vulnerable adults. Unlike younger people, older retired victims are not usually able to earn money to replace their losses. Seniors who are defrauded out of significant resources could risk losing their homes and may not be able to afford to buy medications or food. As a result, chronic medical conditions can become exacerbated and may lead to hospitalization from the stress of being victimized.  Some victims experience severe depression and premature death; others have to apply for state assistance programs to survive after being fleeced.  All of these factors highlight the need to report scams and financial exploitation to the authorities so they can investigate and arrest perpetrators.  Reports of tax scams also result in greater media attention and consumer education.

Aging Life Care Professionals™ – A powerful tool to combat fraud

If your parent is isolated, frail, cognitively impaired, or lives far away from you, hiring an Aging Life Care Professional may be one of the most powerful protection tools available. These professionals can deter abuse and exploitation through ongoing oversight. They will report abuse and exploitation if it occurs, make follow up calls, advocate on behalf of the older person, and make sure the victim gets emotional support as they go through the legal process. To find your own Aging Life Care Professional go to aginglifecare.org.

About the author:  A Fellow of the ALCA Leadership Academy, Jullie Gray has over 30 years of experience in healthcare and aging. She is a Principal at Aging Wisdom in Seattle, WA. Jullie is the President of the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and the Past President of the Aging Life Care Association. Jullie Serves on the King County Elder Abuse Council in Washington State. Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter @agingwisdom, or email her at jgray@agingwisdom.com. Aging Wisdom has a presence on Facebook – we invite you to like our page.


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.

Caregiving Solutions

An Aging Life Care Professional™  shares how his creative solutions helped a daughter honor her mother’s wishes by keeping her father living safely at home. Finding caregiving solutions for your specific situation is what Aging Life Care Professionals do best. 

Finding the Right Caregiver Makes a Big Difference

Caring for an aging loved one can be a stressful, emotional roller-coaster. Add to that the responsibility of honoring your dying mother’s wishes that your father not be placed in a living facility, and you may find yourself pulling out your hair.

That’s how Sally felt when she finally met Aging Life Care Professional™ Steven Barlam via her Elder Law Attorney. Here Steve shares how his creative solutions to finding Sally’s father a caregiver made all the difference in keeping her father living safely at home.

HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT YOU NEED AN AGING LIFE CARE PROFESSIONAL?

When caregiving for an aging family member becomes overwhelming, it may be time to contact an Aging Life Care Professional.

You may need an Aging Life Care Professional if the person you are caring for:

  • has multiple medical or psychological issues
  • is unable to live safely in their current environment
  • is not pleased with current care providers and requires advocacy
  • is confused about their own financial and/or legal situation
  • has limited or no family support

Or if your family:

  • has just become involved with helping the individual and needs direction about available services
  • is either “burned out” or confused about care solutions
  • has limited time and/or expertise in dealing with the individual’s chronic care needs and does not live close by
  • is at odds regarding care decisions
  • needs education and/or direction in dealing with behaviors associated with dementia

If you are looking for an Aging Life Care Professional in your area, aginglifecare.org includes a searchable directory of our members. These experts can do for you what Steve did for Sally and her father.

About the author: Steven Barlam, MSW, LCSW, CMC is an Aging Life Care Professional and Fellow of the Leadership Academy. Barlam is the Executive Vice President of Care Coordination and Co-Founder of LivHOME – provider of in-home care solutions. 


This blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, nor is it intended to be a substitute for, professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Information on this blog does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Aging Life Care Association™ and is provided “as is” without warranty. Always consult with a qualified professional with any particular questions you may have regarding your or a family member’s needs.