Scams and the Elderly

We are heading into the “tis the season” season and while you may think that I am talking about turkey and mistletoe, I am not. I am talking about the scamming season. And especially those vermin who prey on the elderly.

Each year seniors lose billions of dollars to scammers through a myriad of scenarios all of which are cloaked in authority and respectability. Often the senior is offered an unbelievable deal on a product or service that has a known value, other times it is a fundraiser for victims of some catastrophe that has made national news such as a flood, earthquake or fire. These scum suckers watch the news just like the rest of us but when we see a story that deals with great loss we get emotional but the scammers get gleeful and create campaigns to convert our emotion into a personal payday for them.

Our parents are targets and if they fall victim to a scam, chances are you will never hear about it. But surely mom will tell me if she was taken advantage of and lost money.  Not so quick, let’s peel back a few layers of this onion and see what we find. First many adult children of aging parents are taking on the role of protector and many times finances play a large part.

“When protectors take over finances or lecture parents about their mistake, it plays right into the scammers’ hands by threatening the target’s independence,” says Anthony Pratkanis, a social psychologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and coauthor of Weapons of Fraud with AARP’s Douglas Shadel. “For scam victims to admit

they were wrong means they’re stupid and unable to take care of themselves,” Shadel said.

So the parent could view this as being at the top of a slippery slope and once over the edge, what’s next? Give up the car keys, move in with the kids or assisted living? So if they really don’t have to divulge anything to you they are protecting their turf, their independence and you, well you just don’t have a need to know.

As Director of a home care agency in the Phoenix area this is something I have seen again and again. Son: “Mom, why didn’t you tell me that you fell?”. Mom: “I didn’t think you had to know, I handled it and I’m OK.”  Just replace the word fell with scam, theft, fraud, etc. If what happened is not life threatening, then the son will never know.
So what can we do to keep our parents free of the jaws of these sharks? As usual we have to tread lightly in broaching the subject for the fear of damaging what could be a very fragile familial relationship.  Here are some tips that might work for you.

Support – Don’t play the blame game or give any indication that you are disappointed in them or that they should feel shameful. Remind them of what they taught you many moons ago and that is don’t trust strangers and if it is too good to be true then it probably isn’t.


Slam the Door – Tell your parent that in this situation its ok to be rude. Scammers know that if they can keep the senior engaged long enough that they will most likely agree with their proposal or offering. Cut the caller off, interrupt them and tell mom that she is not being rude she is dealing with a scoundrel. If the tricksters are at the door say no thank you and close the door, if they are on the phone say put me on your do not call list, if it’s a direct mail piece trash it. Don’t be polite, don’t wait for them to pause (they won’t) and don’t read their solicitation.


Pick up the Mail – Everyday, especially if they have a curbside mailbox. Another thing to pick up is a shredder and shred every credit card or bank solicitation that has their name on it. You need to keep all information on the parents out of the hands of those who would steal from them.


Turn Victims into Victors – If you are too late and the thieves have done their deeds and the parents are not only out money but probably pretty embarrassed too. Be strong, tell them it is time to stop being a victim and it’s time to get the police involved. If they can help to get this scum locked up then we are all a lot safer.


Other things to do – Have an unlisted phone number, put their telephone numbers on the do not call list, check their credit report through one of the free services and subscribe to an ID theft protection.

These are just a few of the many steps we can take to protect our senior population. If you have some tips that all of us might benefit from, please list them in the comments below.

About the author, Michael Simpson. Teresa and Michael Simpson have two Visiting Angels franchises in the West Valley and along with over thirty five Angels take care of hundreds of seniors every year. They love what they are doing and are blessed with a dedicated and compassionate staff.



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Aging In Place. Is It Right For You?



When you walk in to a big city shopping mall, one of the first things you will do is stop at the kiosk inside the front door which says:


You Are Here!


It will be a large arrow pinpointing your location. Now you can orient yourself to the lay of the land and how you might want to proceed in this foreign territory.

Hopefully I can guide you somewhat as we step off into the sometimes murky world of elder care.

Michael Simpson, Director Visiting Angels

Michael Simpson, Director
Visiting Angels

As the owner of a senior care company in the Phoenix area one of the questions we deal with a lot is at what point should the senior be moved to a higher level of care.  This question is dealt with at our initial assessment and again as we go through the care process.  It is discussed again if the senior moves to an independent living facility (ILF), an assisted living facility (ALF), a skilled nursing facility (SNF) and onto hospice which many times takes place in the home of a family member.

Many reports and studies are out there which point to the fact that seniors do better if they can remain in their own home.  This is referred to as aging in place.  Their home is where the family was raised, memories made and where they not only know exactly where the furniture is placed but also know their neighbors.  Aging in place, simply put, is where seniors remain in their home and the services that they need come to them. Continue reading “Aging In Place. Is It Right For You?” »

Make a Difference, Volunteer


Debbie Kimmick

We have all seen people in the news who volunteer during emergencies and help the needy. But what we almost never see or hear about are those who go out to make just someone smile.

It sounds simple. It is easy to make someone smile, right? But in some situations, it’s not as easy as you think.

My favorite way to volunteer is to take Honey, my three-year-old Havanese, and make people smile. Together we visit hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and memory care units and sit with patients. Honey, the true smile maker that she is, lets them pet and love on her. As soon as we walk in the door, we instantly see the smile start to form. Then the stories come and we are treated to tales about the pets from their childhood or ones they’ve had to leave behind.

Each location is a unique. The training I have been Continue reading “Make a Difference, Volunteer” »

Angels Becoming Elves

My headshotIt seems like once the Thanksgiving dinner dishes are clean and put away, Christmas comes at us like a runaway locomotive.  And every year that train just picks up speed.

Besides all of the family issues to fret over, who’s going where and what presents to buy there are business issues too.  Clients must be contacted to see who is going to need care on Christmas and New Years day and who of our office staff and Angels are going to be on call.  Seems like many of us are on a dead run and it’s easy to lose sight of what the season is all about.

This year, at one of our weekly staff meetings, our wonderful Marketing Manager, Debbie Kimmick came up with an idea that was quickly and unanimously greeted with a “Yeah, let’s do it.”

In visits to many of our referral partners such as independent living facilities, rehab centers and memory care units Debbie sees that many of the residents have trouble with simple physical tasks like writing or holding an object.  She then wondered how could these folks ever address a Christmas card for their family or wrap a gift for a grandchild.  They can’t.

OK, that’s the problem now what’s the solution.  It’s simple Debbie Continue reading “Angels Becoming Elves” »

Veterans and Anniversary and Thanksgiving

My headshotTuesday, November 4, 2014 4:45 AM

 Yes that is the correct time.  Sometimes I feel cursed that I cannot sleep in but hey, that’s me.

It’s November and November is a special month.

We have Veteran’s Day (which I am one).  Actually it’s Armistice Day, but WWI is so ancient history (not).

It is my wedding anniversary (the 46th this year, now that’s ancient history).

And it’s Thanksgiving (and I am thankful).

Also I couldn’t let this slide. Every two years we have a national election where we can exercise our majority and put the other party in power if we so desire.

Except it seems like it doesn’t matter which party is in power any more, the government still gets Continue reading “Veterans and Anniversary and Thanksgiving” »

Long Term Care: Where to Begin.

My headshotYou Are Here.

You’ve worked hard all your life.  Made sure that you had insurance for the curves that life can throw you.

College fund for the kids, some retirement funds put away for you and your mate.

You’ve looked into buying an RV and hitting the road, volunteering at a hospice agency, learning to play an instrument, even relocating to a foreign country where the climate is tropical and the cost of living much lower.

But then life happens.

A Change of Course

What if the beach chair that you planned to sit it at age 70 turns into Continue reading “Long Term Care: Where to Begin.” »

What’s Your Mantra? Six Benefits of Meditation for Seniors.

My headshotIn this post you will learn six undeniable benefits of meditation for seniors, how to begin immediately and debunking the perception that modern mediation is a religion.

Some of us boomers think that meditation began in the sixties being popularized by the Beatles and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi but in fact it goes back centuries before that.  Meditation originally was meant to help deepen understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life. These days, meditation is commonly used for relaxation and stress reduction.

I was a child of the sixties and explored transcendental meditation at the time and really enjoyed its benefits.  Why I drifted away from it I don’t know but that was the sixties and a lot of things just drifted away.

I have recently come back to practising meditation and vow to keep it going this time because I am genuinely benefiting from it.  But here is where I really struggled. I am also a Continue reading “What’s Your Mantra? Six Benefits of Meditation for Seniors.” »

Tips to Protect Seniors From Falling

My headshotFalling.  You think that it won’t happen to you.

That’s what I thought and then I fell.

It didn’t have to happen.

I had just spent about an hour swimming, then Teresa joined me in the pool and we spent about another forty five minutes playing pool badminton.  Afterwards I spotted a couple of leaves that had blown in and I wanted to get them out of my pool.  Putting on my flip-flops, I grabbed the pool skimmer net and walked around the pool.  To the sides and the back of the pool we have a decorative boulders and river rock to the edge of the pool.

In the blink of an eye  the leading edge of my flip-flop caught on a rock and down I went.  On the way down I used my left hip to gracefully bounce off the boulder and then I used my rib cage to hit the rolled edge of the pool.

I was a third of the way into the pool and couldn’t move.

Being a former  EMT I knew that I needed to do a rapid trauma Continue reading “Tips to Protect Seniors From Falling” »

Hospice of the Valley – A Valued Resource

My headshotThere’s no getting around it, there’s a lot of personal suffering in this world. Sometimes you just have to soldier through it but it is always helps (and a blessing to all those involved) if someone comes along side to give you a hand.

End of life issues are just some of those issues that most of us don’t want to think about but can still cause a lot of emotional pain and suffering. And because it is called “end of life issues” don’t be mislead into thinking that it is solely the realm of the aged, it’s not. End of life reaches through out the entire family and there can be a great deal of repressed emotions and unfulfilled needs just below the surface.  We are often called in by Hospice of the Valley to provide additional assistance for Continue reading “Hospice of the Valley – A Valued Resource” »

Announcing an AWESOME New Service

Visiting Angels Peoria AZ

Michael Simpson

Many times the rehab facilities, hospitals and urgent care centers that we partner with call us needing help.  They have a patient that is being discharged to go home but there is no one from their circle of family and friends that are available.

That is when we get a call and sometimes need to get a caregiver assigned and in place in just a couple of hours.  So we have implemented a service which we call “Safe Discharge” and it works like this.

When we arrive at the facility the case manager has already shared some details with us as to the condition of our new client.  The client really just knows that they are getting discharged and that someone is coming to assist them.

We have a final briefing from the case manager, supervising RN and get to know the client.  All this is documented in our “Ready, Set, Go Home” file for the family to keep and refer to as they tend to their loved one.

Page_1We then transport the client to their home, make sure that they are secure, then we can get any prescriptions that need to be filled, groceries bought and back to the house where we Continue reading “Announcing an AWESOME New Service” »

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Visiting Angels Northwest Valley. Providing quality and affordable home care to: Peoria Surprise Glendale and the Northwest Phoenix Area. Call 623-266-9304


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