8 Best Discounts For Seniors

Discount wallet

 

Getting older does have its perks and luxuries! Many companies and franchises around the country offer some special privileges and discounts to seniors in order to honor and aid them in their golden years. AARP membership or a simple age requirement is normally all that is needed to utilize most of these benefits. 62 seems to be the magic age number for many places, but there are exceptions, with cutoffs at 65 years old. Take a moment to see which of these senior discounts listed below might be available for you or a loved one to take advantage of.

 

  1. Amtrak

A 15% discount is offered to Amtrak travelers age 62 and older on the majority of Amtrak trains. However, this deal excludes first-class and business-class tickets, as well as weekday Acela Express trains. For train rides crossing the Canadian border, this discount becomes 10% for seniors age 60 and older.

 

  1. Greyhound

A 5% discount is available upon request to passengers age 62 and older on bus fares within the United States.

 

  1. Verizon (65 Plus Plan)

Verizon accommodates the basic, simple phone needs for seniors who don’t need all the fancy gadgetry and just want a phone for functional purposes.

Verizon offers customers age 65 and above a cell phone plan with fewer minutes than its regular nationwide plans for a lower price. This 65-plus plan provides 200 anytime minutes for just $29.99 on basic functional cell phones. A comparable data plan for a smartphone is a little extra.

 

  1. A Range of Restaurants

A handful of popular restaurant chains offer excellent discount to dining seniors.

Applebee’s offers a 15% discount for customers age 60 and older.

IHOP has a 55-plus menu offering smaller portions at lower prices.

Denny’s takes 20% off the check for all AARP card carriers.

And Dunkin Donuts offers a free donut with the purchase of a large coffee to AARP members.

 

  1. Rental Cars

AARP members are entitled to discounts for up to 25% on car rentals from Alamo, Hertz, National, and Budget, as well as 30% discounts from Avis, and 5% discounts from Enterprise rental cars.

 

  1. Select Hotels

AARP provides seniors with a choice set of discounts at great hotels, including up to 20% off at Sheraton, Weston, and Ramada hotels, and 10% off lodging at Hyatt, Best Western, and Comfort Inn.

 

  1. Teleflora Flowers

AARP members can get a 20% discount on flowers and bouquets at Teleflora Flowers.

 

  1. Movies

AMC provides senior discount tickets for people 60 and older in addition to its child discount tickets.

Cinemark offers a comparable discount on Mondays for seniors 62 and older.

Regal only charges $5.50 for a popcorn and drink to AARP members.

 

4 Cell Phone Plans for Senior Citizens

Cell Phone Plans for Senior CitizensSeniors have enough bills on their hands. As it is encouraged for them to have a smart device such as a tablet or smartphone, it should not be too expensive to manage. Luckily, there are cell phone plans for senior citizens available with no contracts to get into nor cancelation fees. The government also has programs available to assist seniors and those who are income qualified to receive free phones and airtime minutes. Below are four excellent cell phone plans for senior citizens.

No-Contract Phones

A great way for seniors to avoid the hassles and become locked into a plan are to select no-contract phones. These make for some of the best cell phone plans for senior citizens. You’ll find these phone plans as prepaid cell phones or pay as you go phones. There are no contracts, no credit checks, no monthly bills, and most importantly, no hidden costs. It’s a refreshing change to a confusing traditional cell phone plan.

The way the plan works is you’ll purchase the phone and then buy a prepaid phone card with a select number of minutes. Sometimes you can update this online. The major carriers offer these, but seniors may find better deals with smaller carriers.

TracFone offers no-contract phones starting at $10.

• T-Mobile has a good plan for seniors. They offer a 30 minute plan for only $10. These minutes are active for 90 days. Seniors can also opt for their 1,000-minute plan for $100. The minutes remain active for one year. However, this plan requires a $35 activation fee.

• Consumer Cellular also offers a senior-friendly phone called the Doro PhoneEasy 618. This offers large buttons that make it easy for seniors to dial out. The phones initial costs is $60; however, the plans start as low as $10 a month.

Free Cell Phones

There are many free cell phone plans that seniors qualify for as well. These are offered through the government. Wireless companies such as Lifeline, Assurance Wireless, and Safelink all operate under free services throughout the nation.

Seniors receiving Medicaid, Public Housing Assistance, Social Security Income (SSI), Food Stamps (SNAP), or other government assistance services may be eligible for these subsidized plans. Most plans include a free phone and 250 free minutes a month. Some services allow you to bring in your own phone to activate under this free plan. For a Lifeline provider in your state, visit Free Government Cell Phones and search via your state.

Verizon Wireless Nationwide 65 Plus Plan

A select number of major carriers offer plans especially for seniors. Verizon Wireless has a Nationwide 65 Plus plan for seniors 65 years of age and older. This plan targets seniors who do not talk on the phone much nor text or surf the web often. They have a single plan and a two-line plan, perfect for couples.

An example plan is the 200 anytime minutes at $29.99. The two-lines can be shared for 450 minutes at $59.98. The Nationwide 65 Plus plan includes 500 night and weekend minutes for the single line and 1000 night and weekend minutes for the two-lines. Long distance and unlimited national mobile-to-mobile are included for both. Then, seniors can tailor their plan to their needs such as pay-as-you-go messaging or an unlimited plan. Data plans start at 75MB, or they can opt for pay-as-you-go.

GreatCall GoPlans

An interesting phone plan offered by GreatCall is through their new Jitterbug5 phone. This intriguing phone has a dedicated 5Star button. It includes large buttons with legible numbers, a backlit keypad, and great speaker connections for maximum call clarity. The battery life on the Jitterbug5 is for 25 days.

The 5Star button allows seniors to connect immediately to a Medical Alert Agent. The service includes MedCoach, which reminds seniors to take their medication and the GreatCall Link which assists caregivers and seniors regarding their health and safety.

GreatCall’s basic plan starts at just $14.99 and includes 50 talk minutes per month. Each GoPlan includes Free Long Distance, Call Waiting, Voice Mail, and Caller ID. There are no contracts or cancelation fees.

This listing is not all inclusive, so contact your carrier and ask them if they have cell phone plans for senior citizens. Depending on the seniors’ needs, this may be just the plan they need to save them major bucks.

 

Activities of Daily Living

As our parents age, we often try not the think about the worst case scenarios. However, the truth is, your parents will age and come to a state where they depend on us to handle their financial, legal, and emotional matters. It’s important for you to know their wishes and how to obtain important documentation. Here are seven questions to ask your aging parents before it’s too late, and things become complicated.

1. Do You Have Someone to Make Health Care Decisions for You?

In most cases, aging parents are expected to make health care decisions for their spouse. However, decisions can be prolonged or go in the opposite direction of what a person wanted. This is because family and close friends are too emotionally attached, thinking of their own wants and needs. Your aging parents can select a health care proxy who will handle all their health care decisions. Before they designate one, they need to be sure this person can carry out their wishes.

2. Do You Have an Idea of the Type of Medical Care You Want?

Having a health care decision maker only works well if they know your medical care wishes. That’s why it’s important to discuss with the decision maker exactly what they want, especially when faced with the end of life decisions. Comfort levels, pain management, life support decisions, these are all important as your parent does have their own views.

3. Do You Have a Will or Living Trust?

The fact that both of your parents are alive and well does not mean they shouldn’t have a will or living trust established. Typically, when a spouse passes away, the surviving spouse automatically receives the assets. However, what should happen if they become incapacitated or pass away soon thereafter? It’s important that both of your aging parents establish a will or living trust so their possessions can be passed on as they wish.

4. Do You Have Your Long-Term Care Plan in Place?

Some parents believe they will stay at home until they pass on. They don’t think about how they will be able to remain at home and be comfortable. There are costs involved, such as an actual caretaker, medications, and supportive equipment. They may, in fact, not be able to remain at home and need to go to a supportive facility such as an assisted living or nursing home.

The costs of these communities are rising so having a long-term care plan in place, especially insurance, is going to be helpful. If they do have long-term care insurance in place, set up an appointment for you, your parents, and the insurance agent to discuss the policy in full. You need to make sure you understand it and the coverage options.

5. Where Can I Find Your Important Documents and Are They Current?

If you are not familiar with where your parents keep their important documents, it’s time to find out. If something were to happen to them, you don’t want to waste time searching their home for insurance documents, medical paperwork, financial statements, or proxy designation forms. Any documents kept in a safe deposit box should have a designated family member assigned a key. Ensure these documents are up to date as well.

6. Do You Have All Your Doctor’s Listed in One Location?

Should an emergency happen, it could be critical for attending physicians to talk to your parent’s primary care physician (PCP). There could have been a recent appointment that uncovered important information about your parent’s medical condition. You should know who their physicians are and how to contact them.

7. What Are Your Current Medications?

As your parents age, you can expect that sooner or later there may be medication management problems. They may get confused regarding what prescriptions they take and why. They may mix up their dosage. Having a clear understanding of their prescriptions could save your parent’s life should they become confused.

If your parents are comfortable and open with you, go over these 35 questions that AARP has compiled together. Sometimes the best way to be there for your aging parents is to ask them the hard and uncomfortable questions.

Discover 10 things you should never say to your aging parents. http://bit.ly/1DsAmGV

Top 5 Scams Focused on Seniors

Scams Focused on SeniorsWhen trying to protect your senior loved ones financial affairs, you quickly think of them overspending or not paying their bills on time. However, you should be aware of the many scams focused on seniors these days. Here are the top five scams focused on seniors and what can be done to prevent them.

We Need to Update Your Social Security Benefits Information

A scam artist will call seniors pretending to be someone from the Social Security Administration (SSA). They may tell a senior they need to update or verify the information on file. They could call stating they’ve won a sweepstake and need their personal information such as name, address, and bank account information to submit payments to. In the end, they’ll change the benefit payment to be deposited into their bank account or debit card.

How to Steer Clear:

Tel your loved one to never give out personal information via the phone or email. The Social Security Online Services has a Block Electronic Access form that can be completed online. Once this is completed, not even the senior will be able to see or change their personal information online or via the phone.

It’s Your Grandchild Calling

Many seniors are hearing impaired. This makes it difficult to recognize who it is calling them. They may hear a young voice of a child or young adult saying, Hey Grandma, Hey Grandpa, Hey Auntie, it’s your granddaughter, grandson, or niece. Often, the senior will guess the name of who it is, and the caller has them locked into their scam. They’ll ask for money to be wired because of some dire emergency they need help with.

How to Steer Clear:

Alert your senior loved ones of these types of scams focused on seniors. Tell them that if they receive calls of this nature to tell them they’ll call them back. Then, they can contact you or another family member to verify the story. They should also be cautious of someone calling them directly by name. This information could be accessed by a friend of the family. They can divulge personal information they know about or what’s listed on Facebook and other social media sites.

The Perfect Investment Opportunity – Act Now

Seniors are major targets of investment opportunities. They want to extend their retirement benefits as best as possible. They may have too low of income to sustain their monthly bills and prescription costs. Right now, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity may be their best bet.

How to Steer Clear:

Remind your loved one of how hard they’ve worked all their lives. At this point, anything sounding too good to be true, surely is. Any investments should be handled through a financial institution, with credentials.

We Can Save You Thousands on Your Prescription Discounts

With the cost of prescriptions increasing and many seniors needing additional prescriptions on each doctor’s visit, seniors fall prey to this scam easily. The scam artist will tell the senior they can save so much on their prescription drug cost by enrolling in their one-time fee of $100-$200. If they are lucky to receive any products or discount cards at all, it’s worth nothing. However, the caller now has $200 and the senior’s credit card information.

How to Steer Clear:

Talk to your loved one about their prescription costs. Each state has some type of low-income health insurance they can sign up for. They can also talk to their local pharmacist regarding a reputable discount program they may qualify for.

Your Loved One Has Uncollected Debt

Unfortunately, some scam artists will stoop to whatever low means they can. They will search through obituaries online or in the paper and find a grieving widow. They tell them their deceased beloved has thousands of uncollected debt that now rests upon their shoulders. They may offer a settlement amount so that the entire embarrassing incident is swept under the rug. They can keep their home, car, and not deal with court.

How to Steer Clear:

Advise the loved one in their time of grieving to pass off any business matters to another competent and trusting family member. Educate them that in most states you are not responsible for a deceased spouse’s debt. They can contact an attorney specializing in probate laws.

Other popular scams focused on seniors include health insurance fraud, funeral and cemetery scams, Internet fraud, homeowner and reverse mortgage scams, and selling bogus items. Keep an open line of communication between you and your loved one so none of these scams focused on seniors happens to them.

Preparing to Manage Your Parent’s Finances

As your parents get older, you’re going to have growing concerns about their health, happiness, and finances. You can prevent them from hardships if you step in to manage your parent’s finances early on. This will take more than a weekend’s time to establish though. The time to start is today. Here are a few tips on how you can successfully prepare to manage your parent’s finances.

Know What the Warning Signs Are

Take a look around their home. Do you see bills stacking up on the table or unopened and thrown away in the trash? Notice how much household goods and food they have. If they are running low, this could be an indicator of financial struggles. If this is the case, then you need to look into financial planning matters.

However, if you find the money is available and your parent’s state they’ve simply forgotten to pay a bill, you’ll want to have your parent’s doctor evaluate them for dementia. With dementia comes confusion and memory loss. Displaying signs of dementia are clearly an indicator that it’s time for you to manage your parent’s finances. In either scenario, it’s time to look into executing someone as your parent’s power of attorney.

Talk Things Over with Your Parent

You never want to approach the situation with a forceful hand. Talk to your parents openly about your concerns. Tell them you’d like to get a few processes in place so you can be ready to help them when the time comes to manage their finances.

Some parents may be willing to go along with it while others will rebel against the idea. After a few patient talks and asking for family and trusted friends to help, you may need to be a bit sneakier to get what you need to help your parents.

Gradually Make the Changes

To start helping your parents and gain their trust, it’s important to let them know what you are doing and why. For instance, there are many scammers who prey only on seniors. They target them via mail, the internet, phone, and in person. They either take the money directly from them or find ways to phish for their personal information and open accounts in their name.

• Place your parent’s phone numbers on the do-not-call lists.

• Order and review their free credit reports at Annualcreditreport.com to verify there is nothing suspicious going on with their account.

• Monitor their report with a free or low-cost credit monitoring program. Check with your parent’s bank to see if they have any discounted offers.

Tell your parent you want to help them make good spending decisions. Set your parent’s up on a cash-spending plan. This will ease any tension and help you to monitor their spending habits.

A great talking point is to tell your parent you’ll be responsible for paying their bills that can free up their time for activities they enjoy doing. They now have time to go golfing, gardening, exercising, and other leisure activities with their friends.

Make a List of All Their Financial Accounts

If your parents will cooperate with you, make a list together of all their financial institution’s bank accounts, money market accounts, safe deposit boxes, and even social security payments. If everything isn’t documented in one easy location or they are uncooperative, you can now get sneaky. Take a look at their tax return. It should list any interest income and dividends, as well as the financial institution’s name associated with them.

Get Documentation of Power of Attorney

Having access to your parent’s bank account information is one thing, but being able to sit down with an account manager and discuss your parents’ account is another. This is why it’s important for your parents to assign a power of attorney as soon as possible under their own cognizance. The process is much smoother. Otherwise, if you must seek this on your own, this could be a long court process. The banks will not be able to discuss any financial matters without your parent’s approval.

Cease Unnecessary Bills

As you start to manage your parent’s finances, you’re going to find some expenses could be eliminated. These include magazine subscriptions, credit cards with annual fees, and health club memberships they no longer use.

Review bank and credit card statements to see if there are any unreasonable amounts given to a charitable organization. A simple donation to a cause they believe in is fine; however, someone with dementia can go overboard.

Get the Help of a Financial Planner

After you have all legal rights, you can start having all account notifications sent to you. The important thing to do now, rather than later, is having a financial planner assist you in prioritizing bills and making investments.

You don’t know what the future holds for your parent. To successfully manage your parent’s finances, you want to have enough funds to last them for the rest of their lives. As their health fails, you’re looking at a lot of medical expenses, both in and out of the home. So to ensure your parents live comfortably, talk to a financial planner to help you budget your parent’s finances. It also takes the pressure off you to make the best decision regarding their money.

Set Up a Bill Payment System

Next, figure out a bill payment system you are comfortable with. Each bill can be paid automatically each month or opt to pay them online yourself. As you manage your parent’s finances, just ensure to take your parent outside of this circle, so they don’t get confused and double up on a payment.

As you can see, these steps can’t be handled overnight. Have the conversation with your parents today about their financial health. Starting early to manage your parent’s finances will make the process so much smoother down the line when it’s time for you to fully take over.

7 Senior Citizens Discounts You Should Know About

Discount walletSenior citizens have certain perks, and senior discounts are commonly considered one of the best. There’s many senior discounts available, some available in your local area, while others are available world-wide. If you’d like to save some money, you need to read on, and find out more about the top seven discounts every senior should know about.

We hope you’ll take advantage of the top seven senior citizen discounts available to you, as you’ve earned these discounts, and will be happy that you did. You’ll cut back on your expenses, save some extra money, and can feel happy in knowing your taking advantage of the offers available to you just for being a senior! After-all, you’ve put in a lot of hard work throughout your life, and it’s about time it pays off.

Restaurant discounts

Almost all restaurants offer senior citizen discounts on an ongoing basis. These discounts range in percentage, but typically fall between 10-25%. When you visit one of the restaurants in your local area that offers a senior discount, you can save on the overall cost of your bill and enjoy eating out for less. Some of the most popular chain restaurants that offer senior discounts include:

• Applebee’s (15%_
• Papa John’s (25%)
• Wendy’s (10%)

Groceries

If you choose to eat in rather than out, you can still save on the cost of your food by taking advantage of these great in-store discounts. The total discount available for groceries generally falls between 10-15%, and is typically available one day each week. Find out which day is senior discount day at your local grocery store, and plan your shopping for that day to save some cash each month.

Clothing

Clothing can get expensive. However, when you take advantage of the senior discount available through thousands of retailers world-wide, you can spend less on the total cost of your clothing or even buy a few more pieces for the same cost. Check out The Senior List to find clothing shops in your local area that offer senior discounts on each purchase.

Trains and Planes

Traveling is always fun, but it’s even better when you get to save on the cost of your flight or train pass. Starting at age 62, you can save up to 15% on the cost of your transportation. If you’re going cross-county, the discount is reduced to 10%, but given the cost of the trip you’re still offered with a significant savings.

National Parks

For just $10.00, you can get a lifetime pass to all of the national parks. A few years ago this discount was set in place. Given the cost of a park pass, paying only $10 for unlimited access for seniors is a significant savings.

State Passes

Looking to explore attractions throughout the different states? You’ll be excited to learn that senior discounts are available for most state passes. You’ll only have to pay a small fee for a life-long ticket, or may even get the ticket for free. You can inquire with each state to learn more about their senior discount state pass program, and the cost to you.

AARP

The AARP is an association designed to offer discounts with savings. In order to take advantage of the discounts offered through this program, you’ll need to pay the annual membership price, which varies based upon certain factors. The cost of membership is a small price to pay when you compare it to the overall savings you’ll receive through the program.

Tips and Tricks

Are you looking to find even more savings as a senior? You can find several discount programs available online for seniors. Just complete a quick Google search and explore the results. In most cases you’ll only have to enter your birthday in order to qualify for these great online discounts available for seniors.

We hope you liked our post and can save some money! If you know of any great senior discounts now mentioned about, please share them with us and the community to pass the savings along.

 

Reverse Mortgages: Pros and Cons

Reverse mortgage Given the inconsistent information presented by the media, it’s understandable why many seniors have difficulty deciding whether or not a reverse mortgage is a good idea.  Since 1960, when reverse mortgages, first hit the scene, the general public has been hesitant to believe the hype.  Despite their somewhat shady reputation, reverse mortgages continue to gain popularity.  However, before you make a final decision, it’s always good to consider the pros and cons.

Pros of Reverse Mortgages

Obviously reverse mortgages would not be climbing the popularity charts if they didn’t have any benefits.  The advantages of a reverse mortgage include:

  • It allows you to stay in your home with no monthly mortgage payment
  • No repayment required as long as you live in the home and abide by all loan terms
  • Allows you to use your equity, however you choose: pay off debts, make home repairs, take a vacation, etc.
  • Features interest rates comparable (or lower) to traditional and home equity mortgage rates
  • Has no prepayment penalty
  • Does not subject you to additional income tax
  • Enables you to supplement a fixed income for covering daily expenses
  • Protects you from excessive “junk” fees due to heavy government regulations
  • Allows you to finance your up-front fees so they are not paid out-of-pocket

Cons of Reverse Mortgages

As with anything that affects your bank account, it’s always wise to take a look at the disadvantages of the issue as well.  Such negatives are:

  • You may have higher up-front fees than other types of financing
  • Might prevent you from having equity to liquidate for future needs
  • Could reduce the amount of equity left to your children or grandchildren
  • May become due (and payable in full) if certain loan terms are violated
  • Could impact need-based government assistance such as Medicaid
  • Does not allow interest accrued to be deducted on taxes until the loan becomes due
  • Implications if funds are withdrawn and not spent in one month

Making the Right Decision

Understanding how reverse mortgages work is crucial to know if your circumstances warrant such a loan.  You will need to decide if a reverse mortgage is worth your time, effort, and most importantly – your money.

If you aren’t as proficient in doing research as you’d like, there are classes available that can help.  Finding the best research on the pros and cons of reverse mortgages is definitely the ideal way to make an informed decision.  Check out this online tutorial for tips on how to become an excellent researcher.

It’s also highly recommended to speak with a reverse mortgage lender when you are considering what to do with the equity in your home.  You may also want to check out this article on credit.com for more details on reverse mortgages.

Are You Ready for Retirement?

Are you ready for retirementWith all the concern surrounding our nation’s economy and talk about vanishing retirement funds, many soon-to-be retired Baby Boomers are questioning the financial aspects of their retirement planning.  A less common question is: what about retirement living?  Have you really given serious consideration to what you will do with your time once you retire?

A person can stand almost anything except a succession of ordinary days,” said Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe.  In other words, people quickly become bored without adequate activities and mental stimulation.  So how do you prepare yourself for a successful retirement?

“A Failure to Plan is a Plan for Failure”

No doubt you’ve heard this familiar expression, but few have actually realized its value with regard to retirement.  If you’re one of many who simply cannot wait to be done with the whole nine-to-five scene, likely you’ve given quite a bit of thought to what you’ll do with your newfound freedom.  For others, the thought of what they’ll do during their golden years fills them with apprehension – even fear.

Retirement is different for everyone.  Some will want to find some sort of work, while others will revel in remaining work-free.  Regardless of your circumstances, finances and goals, the time to start planning for retirement is before you draw your last paycheck.   Don’t assume you will automatically find enough hobbies and activities to fill your days; after all, you can only play so much golf.

Leaving everything up to chance and a vague “I’ll do whatever I please” attitude will only lead to disappointment.  If you want your retirement to be everything you dreamed it would be, you need a plan.

What Will You Do with Your Life?

Joan Carter, co-founder of Life Options Institute recommends everyone contemplating retirement to do the following:

  • Make life plans.  This is just as important as financial planning.  Knowing what you want to do with your time – and making realistic goals – will help you navigate the new world of retirement.
  • Find a purpose.  It’s unrealistic to believe you’ll simply know what you want to do with your spare time.  A surprising number of retirees end up fighting off feelings of depression once they no longer work for a living because they have stopped feeling useful.  Finding a purpose means involving yourself in ongoing activities that will make your life meaningful and add structure to your life.
  • Develop new friendships.  Resist the urge to withdraw socially as you “figure out” what you want to do with yourself.  Check out volunteer organizations or community centers that include people who share your interests.  This is especially important if many of your regular friends are still working.

Experts agree that a successful retirement depends upon the individual pre-determining the specific factors that will make their personal retirement satisfying.  They also recommend developing an alternative plan in case you experience a temporary setback in your finances that make your original plan unfeasible.  The better you plan ahead, the more you’ll enjoy your retirement.

Financial Abuse of Elderly on the Rise

financial abuseSince 2008, financial abuse of the elderly has risen 12 percent, according to a recent study from MetLife.  It’s hard to get our hands on real numbers,” says Sharon Merriman-Nai, co-manager of the National Center on Elder Abuse at the University of Delaware, but she estimates between 750,000 and 3.5 million Americans have been victimized by financial exploitation.

In 2008, seniors had lost a collective $2.6 billion, but this figure rose to $2.9 billion in 2010.  Why is financial abuse of the elderly so prevalent?

Merriman-Nai attributes the exploitation to the senior’s hard-earned savings.  “The elderly have assets,” she explains, adding, “They’ve had their lifetime to acquire savings and property.”  In today’s tough economy, those savings are mighty tempting to individuals who are financially strapped.  Notice we didn’t say “criminals” or “strangers.”  According to the MetLife report “Broken Trust: Elders, Family, and Finances,” approximately 34 percent of such crimes are committed by family, friends, neighbors, and caregivers.

Fred Joseph, Colorado securities commissioner and president of the North American Securities Administrators Association says that “elder financial abuse is becoming the crime of the 21st century.”  Joseph adds, “There is definitely more fraud than there has been…as the senior population is increasingly targeted.”

Who is more at risk?  Reports show that seniors with health problems – especially dementia – are more likely to be victimized.  You’re also more at risk if:

You are a woman between the ages of 80 and 89
• You live alone and require assistance from a caregiver
• You have a visible disability (use a cane, have a handicap tag in your car, etc.)

Some cases of elder abuse can be quite extreme.  In California, an 85-year old woman was found in Maine – undernourished, disoriented, and robbed of her life savings by a trio of “friends.”  The woman told the police that she had sold her home and moved into an apartment building where she met three friends – who gained her confidence as well as her bank account information, then dragged her from state-to-state without a single care for her well-being.

Steps are being taken to eradicate elder abuse, but it’s really up to each and every senior to protect themselves.  Use common sense and caution – especially with regard to new acquaintances.  Always ask a trusted family member for advice before giving out any sensitive information, and remember to think twice before making any transactions online.

Don’t Overestimate the Cost of Home Care

As a general rule, most of us fear the unknown.  Fear of a high cost of home care could be why so many Americans are deterred from using home care, or even from considering it.  A 2010 survey conducted by the Boomer Project on behalf of Home Instead Senior Care network discovered 49 percent of family caregivers overestimate the cost of non-medical home care by nearly $6.00 per hour.

Survey respondents that didn’t receive home care estimated the cost to be an average of $24.37 an hour for companionship care.  However, the actual average per hour paid by those who did receive home care was $17.10.  Depending on where you live, this figure may even be less.

Other families have the impression that home care is not worth the bother; that other care arrangements will be easier or better.  According to the Home Instead research survey, the majority – 73 percent – of home care recipients were satisfied with the care they received and believed it to be a good value for the money.

“One of our goals is to enable seniors to remain in their homes, where studies show they are happier and receive more care,” says Roger Baumgart, CEO of Home Instead Senior Care.  “More seniors could utilize professional care to stay in their homes if they knew how modest the cost really is.”

Home care services, both home health and non-medical, are often only needed for a few hours each week in order to make a significant impact on the lives of seniors and allow them to maintain their independence.  22 percent of Home Instead Senior Care clients employ caregivers four hours or less each week.  When compared to nursing home and assisted living facilities, this could represent thousands of dollars in savings.

The national average cost for one year in a nursing home is $70,000, according to a MetLife study.  By keeping elderly ones at home and utilizing home care services, families could spend 75 percent less on care each year.

Of course, home care is not for everyone.  In some parts of the country, home health aides may cost as much as $27.00 an hour.  Senior care advisors families to do their homework and research each care option before making a final decision. The cost of home care for you can be manageable for your individual case when you research your options.