After decades of raising kids, working endless hours and putting everyone else’s needs first, this is finally your time to relax. But that doesn’t mean you have to slow down! Even if arthritis puts a kink in your step or a chronic health condition means you’re in your house more often than out of it, you can still lead an active lifestyle on your terms and make the golden years shine.

No matter what you’ve planned for your retirement, here are eight ways to ensure you’re in the best shape possible to enjoy everything life has to offer.

  1. Stay on top of your health. Because our immune systems weaken as we grow older, we’re more susceptible to preventable illnesses that can sidetrack our activities. However, only 50 percent of seniors are up-to-date on essential preventative care services. Be sure to schedule your yearly checkups, get your recommended vaccinations, and don’t forget all those uncomfortable, yet life-saving, exams like colonoscopies and mammograms.
  2. Keep fueling your mind. While you can’t prevent conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s, there are steps you can take to lower your risk, and the continual stimulation of the brain is a big one. Board games, books and crossword puzzles can all keep your mind engaged, but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Take a computer or art class. Participate in educational workshops at your local library. Or, try your hand at a new hobby like playing guitar or knitting. When you keep the brain active, the rest of the body follows.
  3. Get on your feet. Speaking of active, this is no time to confine yourself to your couch. Just 34 percent of adults ages 65-75 are physically active, and this lack of exercise can increase one’s risk of falls, high blood pressure and chronic disease. Simply by taking a 30-minute walk outside or in the mall, you significantly improve both your physical and mental health. To maximize your results, add weight training and flexibility exercises—like yoga or Pilates—to your regimen, or step it up with your favorite sports like tennis or golf. If you’re homebound, talk to your home health care provider about exercises you can perform safely, even while sitting in a chair.
  4. Put your caring spirit to work. One common issue retirees face once their child-rearing and workdays are behind them is losing their sense of purpose. Studies show that when seniors spend time helping others through volunteerism, they regain the confidence that comes with contributing to the good of society. Plus, volunteering helps seniors grow their social network, lower their risk of depression and anxiety, and even improve their physical health.
  5. Watch what you eat. Like exercise, a healthy diet sets the foundation for a longer life. Since our metabolism slows down once we enter our golden years, seniors tend to eat less, which means getting the right balance of vitamins and nutrients is essential. Make sure your meals center around lean meats, plenty of fruits and vegetables (the more colorful, the better!), whole grains, and low-fat dairy items.
  6. Build your social network. Isolation is one of the biggest threats to a senior’s well-being—43 percent of seniors say they feel lonely on a regular basis. If you find your social life on the decline, start building it back up again. Join a club through your church, gym or community center, find a place to volunteer, and make an extra effort to schedule time with family and friends.
  7. Practice mindfulness daily. When your ability to live life like you used to is affected, it can be hard to see the positives in your life. However, when seniors practice gratitude and refocus their attitude, their capacity to adapt to—and even overcome—obstacles improves significantly. Take time every day to meditate, take a quiet walk or journal your thoughts. If negative self-talk fills your mind, find ways to reframe it. Most importantly, if life feels too overwhelming, schedule time to speak with a therapist or clergy member you trust.
  8. Ask for help if needed. You spent years caring for everyone around you, from your kids to your coworkers. If you need help, don’t feel guilty asking for it, whether it’s a ride to the community center or someone to assist you with yard work. There’s no reason for you to be stuck at home or injure yourself when there are so many people ready and willing to jump in as a way to say thank you for everything you’ve done for them.

For additional tips on successful aging, talk to the team at AccuCare Home Health Care of St. Louis. We provide a variety of services to homebound seniors that help them regain their independence and live their best life possible, even when injury or illness stands in their way. To schedule your free consultation, contact us today at 314-692-0020

The last place anyone wants to be is cooped up inside, especially when we know spring is waiting—with its warm weather and sunshine—right outside our front door.

Unfortunately, because the coronavirus is all around us in St. Louis, meeting up with family or going shopping is not only discouraged, it’s downright dangerous for older adults. Social distancing is essential. While the monotony of staring at the same four walls and the uncertainty of the future can leave us filled with dread, it’s important to find joy and happiness in the things we are able to do.

  1. Shop from home. Although many grocery and big box stores in St. Louis have senior shopping hours, it’s still best for older adults to stay at home. Instead of heading out, use an app like Instacart or Peapod to shop and have your groceries delivered. Be sure to ask your personal shopper to leave all groceries on your front porch, and when you do bring them inside, be sure to disinfect all packaging.
  2. Find your Zen. If the unknown leaves you feeling anxious, take a few minutes each day to relax and meditate. Deep, steady breathing can slow your racing heartbeat and stabilize your blood pressure. Listen to a guided meditation video on YouTube or download one of the many meditation apps, like Calm or The Mindfulness App.
  3. Get your workout on. One way to fend off anxiety is to get up and move. If you are able, go out for a walk in the sunshine once a day—just be sure to practice safe social distancing of at least six feet. At home, follow a yoga video online and join an exercise class through a workout app. Or, check out the free live classes St. Louis gyms and yoga studios are currently offering on Facebook.
  4. Catch a show. When you feel like you’ve watched everything you can on TV, look up your favorite musician’s social media pages—many artists are holding live and recorded concerts during this time. If you’re a musical fan, BroadwayWorld offers clips from your favorite shows and performances from Broadway’s best on their Twitter feed.
  5. Take a tour. No matter your interests, you can take a virtual vacation from home. The National Park Service leads online tours of its most popular parks, while Google Arts and Culture houses virtual collections from 2,500 museums and galleries across the globe. Even St. Louis attractions are in on the fun—for example, the Louis Aquarium hosts virtual visits on Facebook every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  6. Visit with friends and family. While you can’t visit in person, you can still see your loved ones anytime you want! Zoom allows you to video chat on your computer or smartphone with family members for 40 minutes at no cost. If you have a Gmail account, try Google Hangout to visit online. Or, use FaceTime through your iPhone to connect. There are a number of videos on YouTube to help you configure your chats, or just reach out to your grandkids to get you set up!
  7. Listen and read. If you’re a book lover, check out the digital options from your local library. For instance, the Louis County Library offers both Hoopla and Kanopy, which allow cardholders to listen to audiobooks, stream movies and check out eBooks. To support your local St. Louis bookstores, you can purchase audiobooks through and print copies through—both of which give a portion of every sale to your favorite independent retailer.
  8. Make a difference. When the world feels chaotic, reaching out to help others can help you regain a sense of control. If you have the materials available and are able, sew face masks for medical professionals in need. Send a card to a friend in a nursing home. Donate to a Louis charity that helps our neighbors most at risk. Consider fostering an older dog from a local animal rescue group. Even the smallest kind gesture can make a huge impact in our community.

Want more information on navigating life and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic in St. Louis? Every Thursday at 12 p.m. CST, AARP hosts live Coronavirus Information Tele-Town Halls that cover a range of topics to fighting against coronavirus geared specifically toward senior citizens. Just visit to join the conversation.

All of us at AccuCare Home Health Care in St. Louis wish you the best for you and your families in the weeks to come. If you ever have any questions on how the coronavirus might affect your homebound family members, please feel free to contact us at 314-692-0020.

In just a few short weeks, the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has turned from a minor worry into an overwhelming fear for many senior citizens in St. Louis.

That anxiety you may be feeling is understandable. For seniors, the mortality rate of the coronavirus ranges between eight to twenty percent depending on one’s age compared to 0.8 percent for the flu. Unlike the flu, there’s no vaccine for the disease.

The best place to hide out from the virus is right in your own home. By staying home and not accepting visitors, you significantly reduce the risk of contracting the virus. If you do have to head out, it is important to follow the advice of local authorities and medical experts.

Why is the coronavirus so dangerous to older adults?

As we grow older, there are two factors that make us more susceptible to transmittable diseases. First, a chronic condition like diabetes and high blood pressure can exacerbate the effects of a viral infection. Twenty percent of patients with a chronic ailment will face a poor outcome after becoming infected with coronavirus. With 90 percent of seniors over age 75 managing at least one chronic issue, that number could grow even higher.

Second, our immune system weakens with every passing year. As it slowly wears down it is unable to fend off foreign invaders like it used to, making us more vulnerable to a variety of life-threatening infections.

Ways to stay safe in our new normal

When it comes to the spread of the coronavirus, you can’t be too careful when it comes to your health. It’s critical to put these suggestions into practice starting now:

  • Wash your hands again and again. You should wash your hands with warm soap and water after using the restroom, if you spend time in a public place, and before you eat. A good rule of thumb is to sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself twice in a row while washing to make sure you hit the CDC-recommended 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Disinfect whatever you can. Studies have found that the coronavirus can survive on hard surfaces, like stainless steel and plastic, for up to three days. Be sure to clean heavily used items regularly with an antibacterial spray or wipe – this includes doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, phones, and computer keyboards.
  • Isolate yourself from others. We know there’s nothing a grandparent loves more than spending time with the grandkids. But over the next few weeks, it’s important to interact with as few people as possible—including your favorite germ-prone kiddos. To avoid the loneliness that comes with self-isolation, be sure to spend plenty of time with friends and family on FaceTime, social media or a good old-fashioned telephone.
  • Skip the trips. The CDC recommends six feet of distance between individuals to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, but that can be impossible in a crowded grocery store or doctor’s office. Ask a family member or friend to pick up groceries or medications for you and drop them off on your porch. Get food or other necessities delivered in. If you have an upcoming doctor’s appointment, ask your provider if you should come in or postpone.
  • Be proactive outside the home. If you absolutely must leave your home, take every precaution necessary to protect your health from fighting against coronavirus. Make your appointments or go grocery shopping first thing in the morning. Dollar General, Fields Foods in St. Louis, and Schnucks, for instance, offer “senior shopping hours.” Wear a mask if possible and avoid contact with others. Be sure to perform proper cough and sneeze techniques and use hand sanitizer often.

How AccuCare is protecting the health of patients

If you or your loved one is currently receiving care from AccuCare Home Health Care in St. Louis, rest assured we are doing everything we can to keep our clients and employees healthy! We have reminded our employees to remain home and let us know if they feel unwell or if they are experiencing any symptoms. They will also immediately report to our office if any persons in their care are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or other respiratory illness.

As always, our team members will practice good handwashing technique at the beginning and end of each shift, anytime there’s contact with a client or their personal items, and if they happen to touch their faces. They will use disposable gloves for direct client contact and practice good personal hygiene. To learn more about our coronavirus precautions or extra steps you can take, contact AccuCare today at 314-692-0020.

As we grow older, one of the greatest threats to our well-being is loneliness. Unfortunately for many seniors, social isolation is inevitable, whether it’s because they lose their ability to drive, are unable to leave their home because of mobility issues, or suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s.

While we can’t prevent many of the health issues that take away our loved one’s independence, we can ease the pain of isolation by ensuring our parents and grandparents stay connected to the meaningful relationships that bring them joy.

The health effects of loneliness

In today’s world, seniors are more isolated than ever before. According to research, 28 percent of older adults live by themselves, and 20 percent say they feel lonely on a regular basis.

While most of us naturally associate loneliness with mental health issues, like anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies, its effect on one’s physical health is just as traumatic. Studies show social isolation is as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and contributes to a number of serious conditions, including:

  • Obesity and Type 2 diabetes
  • Higher levels of interleukin-6, an inflammatory factor that can lead to rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cancer
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Dementia and early on-set Alzheimer’s
  • Early morbidity and mortality

On the flip side, when seniors regularly engage in activities with others, they improve their cognitive function, boost their overall mood, have a greater sense of purpose, and even extend their lifespan. By simply visiting your loved one or taking them on outings they enjoy, you become their best medicine in the prevention and treatment of life-threatening loneliness.

Help your loved one build their social network

Just because a senior is homebound or unable to participate in social activities like they used to doesn’t mean they have to be shut out from the rest of the world. There are plenty of ways to stay connected to friends and family as well as meet new acquaintances with similar interests.

  • Get them moving – If a senior is still physically active, joining a SilverSneakers® health and wellness program at a local YMCA or gym is a great way to stay in shape and find a new social scene. From yoga sessions to cardio workouts, there’s a class for every interest and fitness level.
  • Volunteer – A study by AARP found that 67 percent of seniors who participated in the U.S. government’s Senior Corps volunteer program reported improved social connections within a year of joining. With thousands of opportunities available through churches, nonprofits and schools, seniors can grow connections with their fellow volunteers and those they serve.
  • Find a place to play – Adult day care providers and senior community centers pull double duty for families—caregivers get the break they need when caring for their loved one becomes overwhelming, and seniors get the social support they need to overcome loneliness. Aging Ahead, for instance, runs 21 senior centers in St. Louis where older adults can participate in free exercise classes, arts and crafts programs, and workshops.
  • Be their cruise director – While you can’t drive your loved one around all day, make a special effort to take them to their favorite places when you can. For instance, invite their friends to join you both for lunch once a month or ask them to accompany you to a play or concert. Too often, those who are homebound feel stuck in their situation, and it takes someone on the outside to pull them out of their slump.
  • Sign up for services – If your loved one can’t leave their house, grow their social network at home! Ask their church if they have an outreach program in which members visit with the homebound. Request meal deliveries through the Louis Area Agency on Aging or Meals on Wheels of Greater St. Louis. Or, request a home visit or telephone reassurance call from volunteers available through St. Louis County’s CORP program.

How home health care can help

The team at AccuCare Home Health Care of St. Louis is an excellent resource for helping your loved one regain their independence while easing their loneliness. In addition to caring for seniors’ health needs, the AccuCare team provides companionship to our patients when their families can’t be there. Learn more about our full line of services or contact us today to schedule a consultation for the senior in your life.

Monday, 23 August 2021 09:31

Celebrating 25 Years!

In September, AccuCare Home Health Care of St. Louis was fortunate to celebrate 25 wonderful years of serving our clients in the St. Louis area. We enjoyed a lovely evening with staff, family, business associates, and friends!

We are so thankful for everyone who has been a part of this amazing journey: our families for their support, our amazing team for providing the best care for our clients, our business associates for the many types of support they offer, our friends for being such fantastic cheerleaders, and our community for trusting us with this important work. We are extremely grateful for our clients and their families for the opportunity to be there in your time of need. We look forward to serving the St. Louis area for many more years to come!

Ever since we popped our first children’s multivitamins as kids, the world has told us supplements help us lead a healthier lifestyle by picking up the slack of our poor diets. By fueling our bodies with the recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals, we can stand up to germs, sleep better at night and keep our internal systems running smoothly.

But as anyone can tell you, too much of a good thing can be bad for the body. Going overboard on supplements or neglecting to research possible drug interactions can have dangerous consequences—each year, supplements are responsible for 23,000 emergency room visits, and seniors are at the biggest risk for adverse side effects.

If you or your loved one is over age 65 and using supplements on a regular basis, be sure you truly understand the benefits and risks of what you’re putting in your body each day.

Why seniors need supplements

According to Emory University, 50 percent of seniors take a vitamin or other supplement daily. In many cases, due to lifestyle changes as we age, multivitamins are often necessary. For instance, a drop in physical activity means a drop in our appetite, and when we eat less, we may not be getting all the nutrients our body requires. In addition, if a senior is homebound, they often aren’t receiving the natural shot of Vitamin D they need from the sun.  Some vitamins and minerals that may be necessary in our older years include:

  • Calcium – To combat the effects of osteoporosis, medical experts recommend 1,200 mg of calcium daily for women over age 50 and men over age 70.
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D helps the body absorb that calcium, contributing to better bone health in the years ahead.
  • Vitamin B-12 – Up to 15 percent of seniors are deficient in B-12, the vitamin which helps produce the red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout the body.
  • Fiber – Fiber supplements help regulate bodily functions and lower your risk for heart disease and may help Type 2 diabetes.
  • Iron – Many seniors struggle with anemia and fatigue due to a decline of iron in their red blood cells.

When those extra vitamins and minerals become dangerous

What surprises most people is that in comparison to traditional over-the-counter medications, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires no safety testing, a listing of side effects on the packaging or even FDA approval before a supplement hits the shelves. Without getting advice from a medical provider or nutritionist, seniors are left to navigate a crowded supplement market on their own, which can be life-threatening when precautions aren’t taken.

What are most significant risks to seniors?

  • Going overboard on supplements. As we grow older, our metabolism changes and is unable to break down medications and supplements like it used to. That increases our risk for possible side effects—especially if we don’t follow dosing instructions. For instance, if a senior accidentally doubles that daily recommended dose of iron they need to prevent anemia, they can actually cause irreparable damage to their liver.
  • Neglecting to understand drug interactions. Even the safest supplement can be dangerous when combined with prescription medications. Melatonin for better sleep interferes with diabetes medications; while taking St. John’s Wort to ease depression symptoms can keep blood thinners, heart medications and transplant drugs from working properly. A good at-home resource to use before shopping is WebMD’s Drug Interaction Checker.
  • Failing to tell healthcare providers about the supplements they’re taking. Most seniors remember to inform providers of the prescription and OTC drugs they take, but many neglect to share the supplements they use. This omittance can be incredibly problematic when it comes to certain treatments and surgeries. For those receiving chemotherapy, Vitamin C or E can counteract the drugs’ effectiveness. In addition, Vitamin K can reduce a blood thinner’s ability to keep blood from clotting following surgery.

Protecting you and your loved one from the side effects of supplements

The best way for seniors to avoid any unexpected problems from multivitamins and supplements is to discuss the topic with their medical provider before making a purchase. A doctor, nutritionist or home health care provider can determine if supplements need to be taken in the first place (in most instances, they’re not if a senior is following a proper diet) and recommend safe options that will improve your overall wellness for years to come.

“I need help,” is one of the hardest things for us to say. No one wants to be seen as incompetent or unable to handle their day-to-day duties. Or worse, have their sense of control taken out from under them.

So, when your mom or dad feels you’re making decisions for them, it’s not surprising they fight back. Even if they know they have problems driving, managing their finances or maneuvering through their home, they don’t want to lose their independence like so many of their friends have. But when your loved one’s health and safety are at risk, you can’t stay quiet.

If you’re struggling to get through to your mom or dad, here are some important tips to keep in mind.

  • Pick your battles wisely. Your parents don’t want be nagged at all the time. If there are issues that are merely irritating, like your mom refusing to learn how to use her new smartphone or your dad talking loudly because he won’t put his hearing aid in, just let them go. When you approach them about more serious issues, like developing a long-term care plan or asking them to let others drive them around, they’re more likely to listen.
  • Be respectful, but assertive. When your parents frustrate you, it’s easy for your inner teen to come lashing out. Plan your conversation ahead of time and try to remain calm. Lay out the facts behind your worries instead of playing into emotions and offer suggestions in a straightforward, simple-to-understand manner. Unless your loved one is in a dire situation, a final decision doesn’t have to be made today. If they become angry or frustrated, table the conversation and come back to it later.
  • Find a middle ground that works for you both. If limited mobility restricts your parents’ ability to care for themselves, but they refuse to go into an assisted living facility, be clear about expectations. “Mom, I can’t be here all the time because I have a job, and I have to take care of my kids. Who else can we call on to help?” Then, devise a plan you’re both comfortable with, whether it’s relying on friends as needed, hiring an in home care provider for a few hours a week, or finding senior transportation. Surprising, researchers discovered that focusing on interdependence—a situation in which both parent and child rely on each other—was key in moving seniors to the next step. When a senior looks back on their life and remembers the joy they felt in helping others, they’re more likely to accept the assistance offered and realize that the small loss of autonomy is taking unnecessary stress off their children and family members.
  • Look for a teachable moment. Often, the turning point in getting your loved one to recognize their limitations is an accident or other unexpected occurrence. For instance, if your parent takes a slip on the steps, maybe it’s time to readdress the concerns you brought to them earlier. “Dad, those steps have become dangerous, and I don’t want you to get hurt. Why don’t we go look at that new assisted living center in town—they have first-floor apartments where you can come and go as you please.”
  • As a last result, rely on others. Some parents will never allow their child to them what to do, no matter how right they may be. If you’ve hit a barrier, and your parent’s well-being is at serious risk, it’s time to bring in reinforcements, whether that’s a friend their age they’ll listen to, their healthcare provider, or older family members. In extreme cases in which your parent is in danger or suffering from self-neglect, it may be time to consult with an elder law attorney about conservatorship that gives you control over your loved one’s affairs.

One of the most effective ways to ease your parents into the assisted care they require while respecting their desire for autonomy is to partner with the in home care providers of AccuCare in St. Louis. Whether your loved one needs help with housework a few days a week or requires full-time care, we can customize a care plan specifically for them. To learn more, contact us today at 314-692-0020.

If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, cancer or any other life-changing health condition, this past year has likely been full of ups and downs you could never have imagined. As we enter a new year and a new beginning, the next 12 months don’t promise to be any easier on your family.

While your loved one and their health are always your first priority, make 2020 the year you no longer ignore your own mental and physical care. By making the following resolutions this January and sticking to them week after week, you can help ease the stress that weighs so heavily on many caregivers’ shoulders.

#1 – I will put myself first when I can.
Between doctors’ appointments, therapy sessions and addressing your loved ones’ immediate needs, there are rarely enough minutes in the day to read a magazine, let alone go out to dinner with friends. To ensure you get the break you need, resort to respite care as often as you can, whether that means asking a family member to help, turning to adult daycare or hiring an in-home caregiver for a couple of hours a week. Dedicate those few precious hours to what makes you happy—for instance, hit the gym, catch a movie or get a much-needed massage.

Just as critical, find the time to relax at home. When your loved one is resting, read a book or take a walk on your treadmill. Before they wake up in the morning, take 10 minutes to meditate or enjoy a cup of coffee and the newspaper. There is always time available in the day if you think creatively.

#2 – I will build a support network.

This is no time to hole yourself up at home—studies show that up to 70 percent of family caregivers experience depression due in part to isolation and loneliness. Talk to friends often, even if it’s a quick phone call or text, or invite them over for lunch if you can’t leave your loved one alone. If you feel your friends or family members can’t sympathize with your struggles, turn to a support group either in person or online. The Family Caregiver Alliance, for instance, offers a web-based community any caregiver can join. Or, check out the VA St. Louis Caregivers Support Program page, which lists a variety of local support groups based on your loved one’s condition, such as the St. Louis chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association or the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

#3 – I will take better care of myself—and that includes my mental health.

You can’t take care of your loved one if you’re struggling with your own preventable health issues. This year, be sure to eat three healthy meals a day, get 30-minutes of exercise each day (even if they’re in 10-minute spurts when you can fit them in), shoot for seven hours of sleep a night, and avoid relying on dangerous coping mechanisms, such as alcohol or sleeping pills. If you feel life as a caregiver is crushing you mentally, turn to a therapist or psychiatrist who specializes in addressing the difficulties family members face. Online, at-home therapy through apps like Talkspace or BetterHelp is available if you can’t get to a counselor’s office.

#4 – I will work with my family to develop a fallback plan.

One of the biggest concerns that keeps caregivers up at night is, “What will happen to my loved one if something happens to me?” This year is the year to put your worries to rest by developing a plan of action if the unexpected occurs.

To keep all family members in sync about your loved one’s daily medical needs and health changes, download an app like CareZone, which anyone can access any time of day. It’s also important to research long-term care options with your family (visit the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services website for resources to assist you in your search), ensure all of your loved one’s documents, including their living will and health insurance information, are in order, and meet with a financial planner to discuss your options for covering extended care.

#5 – I will find joy in the everyday.

When your mom forgets your name or dementia causes your dad to blow up in anger at the smallest mistakes, it can be devastating. However, there are those moments when a beloved song brings back a sweet memory. Or a random joke turns your tears of frustration into ones of laughter. Focus on those little milestones and surprises that bring joy to your family. And just as important, remind yourself each and every day how great you are in your caregiver role!

If you follow all of these resolutions and still feel overwhelmed in the day-to-day, turn to the in-home caregivers at AccuCare. We are available for a few hours once a week or 24 hours each and every day, depending on your loved one’s needs. For a no-obligation consultation, contact us today at 314-692-0020.

The season of giving is also the season for scheming. During the holidays, online holiday shopping scammers go right for the hearts of the most generous, stealing their money and their personal information. Senior citizens are especially vulnerable—last year, more than $2.9 billion was taken from our parents and grandparents and pocketed by con artists from around the world.

This Christmas, while baking cookies or hitting the sales with your loved one, talk to them about these threats to their financial security and what they can do if they suspect someone is conspiring to take the joy out of their holiday:

The phishing expedition – If you get an email from a familiar company asking you to update your banking account information, alerting you about an issue with an order you don’t recall placing, or requesting that you download an attached invoice, your first instinct is to follow their instructions to fix the issue. But your first step should be to take a closer look at the sender.

Misspellings or poor grammar, an email address that alters the company’s domain (for example instead of, or a generic salutation (Hello, friend as opposed to Hello, Judy), are all signs a scammer is plotting to upload malware onto your computer or access your account details. If you’re still on the fence, don’t click on or download anything—instead call the company to ask if the email is legit or log in to your account directly by visiting their website through your browser.

The download on downloads – While searching the web or scrolling through Facebook on your smartphone, you see an ad for great holiday deals and special offers at your favorite store—all you have to do is download the app. Just as they have with email, scammers have become experts on mirroring the apps of legitimate stores to sneak into your computer and steal your information. Authentic apps should only be downloaded from the company’s website or through your smartphone’s app store (but only if there are customer reviews that verify the legitimacy of the product).

Fake charities that play on emotions – Scammers have no misgivings about pulling at seniors’ heartstrings during the holidays and will use any sob story necessary to snatch their credit card information over the phone. No matter how much a “charity” pleas or tells you how “urgent” the need is, stop the conversation, hang up the phone, and do some research on the organization through the Better Business Bureau to make sure the request is legitimate. If it’s still a cause you want to support, how you pay needs to be in your hands. Remember—no verified charity will ever pass up a check mailed to their office if you don’t want to share your credit card details!

The grandparent scam – In the middle of the night, you get a call from your grandchild. Their car has broken down on the side of the road, and they need your credit card information to pay the tow truck driver. The last thing any grandma or grandpa wants is their loved one sitting on the side of the road, scared and alone.

Imposters regularly scour social media, obituaries and the web to find family connections and use them to trick older seniors into thinking they’re talking to their relatives—relatives who are facing a crisis and need financial help immediately. If your parent is struggling cognitively or has memory issues, tell them if they do receive a call requesting money, they should follow up with another family member first to be sure the caller is who they say they are.

Swept up in a sweepstakes – You receive a call, check or email congratulating you on winning a prize you “registered for” while holiday shopping. The only stipulations are that you 1) have to pay a processing fee to receive your reward, or 2) have to submit payment now to cover taxes or customs duties. When there’s a trip to Mexico or a new car waiting, why not fork over a few dollars to get your prize sooner than later?

In reality, any company that demands advance payment to cover sweepstakes taxes or fees is violating federal law. You’ll definitely have to pay taxes eventually if that prize is legit, but the check will go directly to the IRS when you file your tax return. It all comes down to the familiar adage – if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you or your loved one suspect someone is trying to scam you this holiday season, you’re encouraged to report the fraud to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 877-FTC-HELP or filing a complaint online at Your diligence can help prevent another senior from falling victim to the unscrupulous at Christmas.

For family members and caregivers of individuals living with dementia or Alzheimer’s, the holidays are always bittersweet. In a season devoted to gift-giving and celebration, it can be hard when your loved one is overwhelmed by, or on the other hand oblivious to, all the fun around them.

While the festivities may look different than in years past, you can still get caught up in the excitement of finding that perfect gift for your loved one—a gift that enhances their safety, offers comfort or stimulates their mind:

A picture phone
As we grow older, we all tend to remember faces, but forget names. A Memory Picture Phone allows you to put 10 photos of family members or friends into a landline phone, so when your loved one needs to reach somebody, they’re just one push away. Your mom or dad no longer has to try to remember phone numbers or hunt down a phone book.


Stabilizing silverware
Tremors or weakness caused by dementia or other health conditions can make eating independently feel impossible. Liftwear silverware adapts to your loved one’s hand motions to keep the fork or spoon stabilized and level, ensuring the senior in your life can enjoy every bite without the need for assistance.




A simple way to hydrate
In the later stages of dementia, patients often don’t recognize they’re thirsty, and the resulting dehydration can lead to severe health issues. An Ulla hydration reminder attaches to any size bottle and tracks when your loved one drinks throughout the day. If they forget to drink, Ulla will begin blinking and/or vibrating to remind the patient it’s time to take a sip.


Musical accompaniment
Studies have found that music can relieve agitation and anxiety in those with dementia as well as help them recall certain memories and better connect with others. The Simple Music Player, for instance, lets you load MP3s of your loved one’s favorite songs into a simple-to-use music box. Seniors can simply lift the lid to start the music and close it to stop. Another option is the Arthur Bear, a cozy teddy bear that offers both cuddle therapy and the ability to play hundreds of tunes when you press his paw.



A fiddle blanket

Up to 20 percent of patients with dementia also struggle with anxiety. A texture-rich fiddle blanket or “busy blanket” offers the sensory stimulation seniors need when they feel overwhelmed. Loaded with embellishments like zippers, buttons, reversible sequins, and toggles, the blanket keeps your loved one’s hands and mind busy so they don’t they don’t rub their skin, pull at their clothing or hair, or twist their fingers when frustration sets in.




A companion animal

Cats and dogs are proven to help alleviate stress and depression in their human friends, but seniors in later stages of dementia are unable to provide their pets with the care they require. Therapy stuffed animals that offer interaction can soothe and comfort your loved one. For instance, a Perfect Petzzz breathes like a real dog or cat and “curls” up in the senior’s lap, stimulating that nurturing instinct all humans have, regardless of their condition.  A Joy for All companion pet responds to petting, hugging and motion, which lowers the impact of isolation and encourages conversation.



Someone to rely on when you’re not there

Even when you can’t be at your loved one’s home, there’s always someone they can turn to when they feel lonely or confused. The GeriJoy Companion tablet connects to a real-life caregiver 24/7 who can engage your mom or dad in conversation, remind them to take their medication or eat a meal, and share family photos provided by you. Their companion also summarizes their discussion and records health metrics to alert you if there are any issues you or your loved one’s healthcare provider need to address.


Find other suggestions for that perfect gift

One of the best ways to create a holiday gift list for your loved one is to ask their home health care provider their recommendations. Because they understand where your mom or dad is cognitively and have connections to other healthcare providers, they can suggest gifts that best engage your loved one no matter what stage of dementia they’re in.


Tel: 314-692-0020

Fax: 314.692.0012


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