Tag Archive for: senior healthcare

WelbeHealth Deepens Commitment to Serving Seniors with Executive Hires

MENLO PARK, CALIF. – Physician-led healthcare organization WelbeHealth has added two seasoned executives to its leadership team: Chief Mission Officer Amy Shin and Chief People Officer Cathy Fraser. The leaders will play a pivotal role as WelbeHealth continues to deliver on its mission to serve the most vulnerable seniors in its communities.

As chief mission officer, Shin ensures that WelbeHealth’s mission is front and center in the community and among policy makers and our regulatory partners. She works closely with the operations teams to ensure that WelbeHealth is continually delivering on the highest standards of clinical quality and compliance. Shin has more than 25 years of healthcare leadership experience, most recently as chief executive officer of the Health Plan of San Joaquin, where she oversaw health care delivery for 350,000 MediCal lives in underserved areas of California.  Shin was the chief administrative officer at On Lok, the first PACE organization, and the Alameda Alliance for Health. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Southern California.

“Amy is a tremendously well respected and connected leader in California’s healthcare landscape, and she’s spent her career doing mission-driven work for vulnerable populations,” said Si France, MD, chief executive officer of WelbeHealth. “It is an honor that she would choose to support and advance WelbeHealth’s mission.”

As chief people officer, Fraser is responsible for the people strategies and services that enable team members to effectively fulfill and expand the WelbeHealth mission. Her focus is on maintaining WelbeHealth’s commitment to values and culture, developing career pathways, elevating team member experience, and investing in diversity, equity and inclusion. She most recently led human resources at Mayo Clinic, US News and World Report’s #1 Hospital, and Tenet Healthcare Corporation (NYSE: THC), a large national healthcare services company. Earlier in her career, she served as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and worked in various finance leadership roles at American Airlines, Sabre, and General Motors. Fraser earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Washington and an MBA from the University of Michigan.

“When we started Welbe, we started with the belief that we have to care for each other before we can care for our participants, so our team has always been the center of our culture and focus,” said Si France.  “With Cathy, who led dynamic people functions at Mayo and Tenet, we’re making a significant commitment to putting our people first.”

About WelbeHealth

WelbeHealth is a physician-led organization founded in 2015 that coordinates senior care, including all medical and dental care, physical and occupational therapy, transportation to medical appointments, meals and personal care services, in a fully coordinated program. WelbeHealth teams close the loop on comprehensive care to keep the most vulnerable seniors living safely in their own homes. WelbeHealth delivers these services through the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), a Medicare and Medicaid program. WelbeHealth operates four programs across California, including the cities of Stockton, Modesto, Pasadena, Long Beach and Fresno. WelbeHealth served more than 1,000 seniors in 2021.  For more information, please visit welbehealth.com.

WelbeHealth center in Modesto

WelbeHealth Modesto Center Opens to Serve Medically Frail Seniors

Physician-led healthcare organization WelbeHealth and Northern California-based healthcare network Sutter Health have opened a new center in Modesto that serves medically frail seniors.

Located at 1224 Scenic Drive, the center is designated a Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) alternative care setting. Integrated with WelbeHealth and Sutter’s PACE center in Stockton, the new Modesto location provides day services to PACE-eligible medically frail seniors age 55 and over. The center, which will employ more than 100 full- and part-time employees when at capacity, features:

  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Personal care and supportive services
  • Meals and nutritional counseling
  • Recreational therapy
  • Access to in-home care and mobile clinic

The new Modesto center addresses a community need, since only a fraction of the over 3,000 PACE-eligible seniors in Stanislaus county are receiving PACE services, according to a WelbeHealth analysis of U.S. Census data and the Medi-Cal Managed Care Enrollment Report.

“WelbeHealth was built on the mission of serving our most vulnerable seniors with greater quality and compassion in underserved communities,” said WelbeHealth CEO Si France, M.D. “As the first provider of PACE services in Modesto since 2019, we are proud to complement our care with a beautiful facility.”

PACE is a national Medicare and Medicaid program that helps keep seniors living in their own homes instead of nursing homes. PACE programs are proven to reduce depression, lower hospitalizations, decrease rehospitalizations, reduce nursing home admissions and improve preventive care, according to recent data from the National PACE Association.

“We are proud to partner with WelbeHealth to enrich the lives of seniors, their caregivers and the broader community,” said Christopher Stanley, M.D., Sutter Health’s chief population health officer. “WelbeHealth shares our commitment to high-quality, community-based healthcare services that help frail older adults anticipate problems and prevent hospitalization or early entry into a nursing home.”

Todd Smith, M.D., foundation area CEO for Sutter Health in the South Valley, said that the importance of good health for aging seniors can’t be underestimated.

“Creating greater access to comprehensive home and community-based healthcare services helps seniors achieve their best health and maintain their independence,” Dr. Smith said.

In addition to the new Modesto center, WelbeHealth has locations in Stockton, Pasadena, Long Beach and Fresno. More than 1,500 seniors were served in 2021. Sutter Health is a not-for-profit integrated health network that serves more than 3 million people in 22 California counties.

Contacts

Jennifer Wezensky
269-274-4071
jennifer@jwprmarketing.com

General Counsel

Blaire Bernard Joins WelbeHealth as General Counsel 

MENLO PARK, CALIF.—Physician-led healthcare organization WelbeHealth today announced that veteran healthcare law attorney Blaire Bernard has joined its leadership team as general counsel. 

Bernard has focused her 20-year legal career on supporting providers whose mission is to expand access to value-based care. Most recently she was general counsel at Iora Health and after Iora Health was acquired by One Medical, she served as senior counsel and compliance officer. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a law degree from Boston University. 

“We’re thrilled to have Blaire join our executive team,” said WelbeHealth CEO Si France, M.D. “She is a seasoned value-based care executive and a collaborative mission-driven team player. This is even more important as we continue our focus on clinical and care excellence as a public benefit company.” 

Bernard will lead WelbeHealth’s legal and compliance functions, partnering with executive and operational leaders to execute the company’s mission of bringing PACE to communities in need.  

WelbeHealth recently became the first Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) provider to convert to a public benefit company, meaning it is obligated to take into consideration the concerns of all stakeholders while prioritizing corporate responsibility and sustainability. An alternative to nursing homes, PACE is a Medicare and Medicaid program that helps keep people in their communities. 

Founded in 2015, WelbeHealth provides comprehensive home-based medical and social services to vulnerable seniors across California, including the cities of Stockton, Modesto, Pasadena, Burbank, Long Beach and Fresno. For more information, please visit welbehealth.com.   

Senior woman applying sunscreen for UV safety

Best UV Safety for Seniors: Keep it Simple with These Tips

July is UV Safety Month 

Enjoying the warm weather is one of the delights of summer. However, it is important to practice Ultraviolet (UV) light safety. For seniors and others, this means limiting your exposure to the sun’s harmful rays, which can cause skin damage and lead to skin cancer.  Around 90% of the signs of skin aging are caused by the sun. Those who have accumulated the most exposure to UV rays over the years are – you guessed it – seniors.

July is UV Safety Month. Using better UV protection can protect your skin from harm. And there are even ways to reverse some damage. Use these simple tips:

UV Safety for Seniors – Go By the Clock

UV protection is most important between 10 am and 4 pm because the sun’s harmful rays are the strongest between these hours. Aim for early morning or evening if you can plan your time outside.  If you must be outside mid-day, try to stay in the shade.

The Best UV Safe Sunscreen for Seniors

Not all sunscreen is equal for UV protection. Choose one that has an SPF of 30 or higher. UVA and UVB sun rays both damage skin cells. Read the label to make sure your sunscreen has “broad spectrum” or “UVA and UVB” printed on the bottle.

Using SPF Correctly

Apply your sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure for it to work best. Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours and after you sweat or swim. People with fair skin, especially those with light-colored eyes and hair, accumulate sun damage more easily and should use UV protection carefully. You can take a quick quiz to find your skin type here.

Reverse Years of Damage

Even if you have had many sunburns or avoided using sunscreen over the years, you can reverse the damage using new technology. Creams or gels with retinoids can help to remove precancerous lesions. Ask your doctor about these topical medications.

Beyond Sunscreen

You have options for protection in addition to sunscreen. Some clothing is designed to protect your skin from the sun. A long-sleeved shirt, long pants, sunglasses that filter UV rays, and a hat with a wide brim can offer protection. Remember also to protect yourself from heat stress during the summer months.         

Skin Changes with Age – Lifestyle Matters

Our skin thins as we age. This can weaken the skin’s defenses to UV light. Proper sun protection for seniors, a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking and pollution can help prevent skin diseases. 

Watch for Skin Changes

Be aware of any suspicious growths on your skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a self-examination once a month. You can find out how to do one here. Visit your dermatologist once a year to check for skin cancer. Bring questions about anything you have noticed that has changed size, is new, or has an irregular border. Also, if you have a growth that causes crusting, irritation, or bleeding, tell your doctor right away.

Remember: skin cancer is among the most treatable cancers. So do your best to catch it early. Enjoy the sunshine safely this summer.

senior woman checking blood sugar level by Digital Glucose

How Controlling Blood Sugar Levels Helps Diabetes Patients

If you’re living with diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels is important. Many factors can help you manage this. The most effective things you can do to stabilize your blood sugar levels include eating nutritious meals and exercising regularly. 

The Basics of Diabetes 

Millions of Americans live with diabetes, a disease in which your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or can’t effectively use it. As a result, your body can’t convert food into energy.  Insulin carries glucose (sugar) into cells for energy. Symptoms of diabetes may include fatigue, blurred vision, heartburn, and frequent urination. If left untreated, diabetes increases the risk of serious health problems such as heart disease and stroke. 

Diabetic Challenges: Managing and Controlling Blood Sugar  

Managing diabetes and controlling blood sugar levels can be a difficult and lifelong process. To begin with, you need to monitor your insulin level regularly to see how you respond to food and activity. Stabilizing blood sugar levels can provide relief from many diabetes symptoms. High and low glucose levels can cause a range of health problems, such as:  

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) 
  • Neuropathy (nerve damage) 
  • Gastroparesis (digestive problems) 
  • Heart disease 
  • Blindness 

Effectively managing diabetes can help reduce your risk of developing these medical conditions. Additionally, by taking action now, you can help maintain your quality of life regardless of diabetes.  

Taking Action: Controlling Blood Sugar Levels with Diet 

There are many natural methods for controlling blood sugar levels, including managing carbohydrate intake and exercising regularly.  

Many people have difficulty stabilizing their blood sugar because they overeat, consume processed food, or enjoy too many sugary snacks. These foods cause blood sugar to spike, then drop again, leaving a person tired and irritable after eating them. 

Blood sugar that is too high or too low can make diabetes symptoms worse. By stabilizing blood sugar, people with diabetes can find relief from pain and discomfort, often without medications. 

To help manage blood sugar, eat whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains instead of processed snacks with little nutritional value. Beans, lentils, and oats can help stabilize your blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease. Also, these foods are excellent sources of fiber, which can help you feel full for longer after a meal. 

How Exercise Can Help 

It’s important to exercise regularly. Even small amounts, such as ten minutes of activity three times a day, can help control your blood sugar levels. Resistance exercises such as strength training with resistance bands, yoga, or lightweight dumbbells help build muscle and control glucose levels. Talk to your doctor to ensure you can safely exercise and see which activities fit your lifestyle. 

Supporting the dietary health of seniors is just one way that WelbeHealth helps older adults and their families. Visit our FAQ page or contact us for further information. 

Senior playing jenga

Love Your Brain: 5 Simple Ways to Support Brain Health  

As we get older, it is important to find ways to support brain health. About 1 in 9 Americans over the age of 65 have Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers expect that number to double by 2050. 

But, there is good news. You can support your brain health and lower your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias. Growing research has shown that lifestyle changes can significantly impact our brain health. 

Here are a few brain health tips you can put into practice! 

Exercise to Improve Blood Flow in Your Brain 

We all know exercise is good for our body, but it also benefits our noggin! Participate in regular exercise that raises your heart rate. This increases the blood flow in your body and your brain, helping you think more clearly. Several studies have shown that regular physical activity may decrease cognitive decline.  

Improve your brain health by adding some of these activities into your routine: 

  • Walking indoors or outdoors 
  • Swimming 
  • Aerobic exercise classes 
  • Dance 
  • Yoga 

Fuel Your Brain with Antioxidant-Rich Food 

There is no magic food or supplement that will prevent the onset of dementia. But, eating a balanced diet is just as good for your brain as it is for the rest of your body.  

Eating a Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. That means limiting red meat and going easy on the dairy. You’ll also want to increase the amount of fruit, veggies, and fish in your diet.  

Next time you reach for a bite to eat, try some of these Mediterranean brain-healthy foods: 

  • Salmon and other seafood 
  • Dark chocolate 
  • Nuts 
  • Potatoes 
  • Fruit 
  • Leafy green vegetables 

Use Your Brain “Muscles” to Stay Sharp 

Staying mentally engaged keeps your brain sharp. Like the muscles in your body, it’s a “use it or lose it” scenario. Mental exercises can promote the growth of new brain cells, and this regular development of new cells may decrease your likelihood of developing dementia. 

Maintaining mental sharpness doesn’t require crosswords and jigsaw puzzles (though studies show those mind challenges can help). Even participating in stimulating conversation, picking up a new hobby, or playing a game of chess can benefit your brain health. 

Try activities that are: 

  • Creative – Pick up painting, quilting, photography, or drawing.
  • Challenging – Don’t just do what comes easy; try something that challenges you a little. 
  • Novel – Master a new language, skill, or concept that is unfamiliar to you.
  • Stimulating – Attend a lecture on an interesting topic or spend time discussing a book with a friend

Give Your Brain the Rest it Needs 

When talking about brain health, we don’t always touch on sleep. But, sleep is a crucial aspect in protecting your brain from cognitive decline.  

Beta-amyloid plaque is an abnormal protein that builds up in the brain of some people. The presence of this plaque is a known precursor to Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have found that a lack of sleep can increases the amount of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain. It is important to get quality rest to support your brain health. 

If quality sleep is something you’re missing, try some of these things: 

  • Reduce daytime sleeping.
  • Speak with your doctor about adjusting medications that may be keeping you awake. 
  • Avoid looking at your phone, tablet, or computer before bed. 
  • Meditate prior to bedtime.
  • Avoid heavy meals before bedtime. 

Get Mental Health Support to Protect Your Brain 

Untreated depression later in life has been linked to cognitive impairment and dementia development. Seek care quickly if you are experiencing symptoms of depression or have other mental health concerns. Your primary care physician may prescribe medication to help alleviate symptoms, refer you to a therapist, or both. 

Speaking with a trusted therapist benefits your overall well-being, including your brain health. Your therapist can help you process grief, develop healthy coping strategies, and give you tools to overcome your mental health concerns. 

Together in a time of need

Coming Together in a Time of Need

When Libby Renshaw, Home Health Registered Nurse at WelbeHealth, visited Jim at his West Hollywood apartment, she became very worried, very fast. It was his first day home after multiple seizures had led to a 17-day hospital stay, followed by a month in a skilled nursing facility. She knew coming together in his time of need was critical.

“As I sat with him, I saw that he had severe tremors in his arms and hands,” says Libby. “His muscles were weak from being bedridden, and I also noticed significant memory impairment.”  

All of this was making even simple activities extremely difficult. The hand tremors were especially concerning because they made it hard for him to eat, and he couldn’t administer the insulin he needed to treat his diabetes.  

Jim had a caregiver on site that day, thanks to the quick work of WelbeHealth’s Home Care Coordinator, Michael. In addition, Jim’s good friend Amir was there and said he could assist. But these were only temporary solutions.  

“Living alone at home seemed unrealistic,” Libby says. She gently told Jim that he might need to go back to the skilled nursing facility, and she could tell that he was devastated.  

“He desperately wanted to be at home,” she recalls. “After I left his apartment, I got on a conference call with the care team. We all agreed that we would do everything possible to keep him living at home.” 

After the call, each WelbeHealth team member got to work on their part of the plan. When Libby returned to the apartment the next day, she was amazed by what she saw.  

Physical Changes All-Around 

WelbeHealth team including a physical therapist, occupational therapist, and a dietitian. They came together during Jim's time of need.
Care Team Members

WelbeHealth Occupational Therapist, Christine Gaw, had set up many solutions to make daily tasks easier for Jim.  

That day, he received a new bed rail to get out of bed more easily, and a bedside commode to avoid walking to the bathroom at night. Christine also installed a toilet riser and a shower bench to make the bathroom safer and more usable.  

She brought in a chair cushion, both for comfort and to prevent pressure ulcers, and she arranged for a recliner chair to help Jim transition from sitting to standing.  

Christine had also hunted down adaptive shoelaces—a big deal because Jim kept mentioning that he could no longer tie his shoes. 

Fitness and Food  

The apartment was humming with other team members, as well. Pam, Jim’s assigned Physical Therapist, was teaching Jim and his friend Amir a home exercise and walking program.  

Claire, Jim’s Dietitian, talked to Amir about good food for Jim. She provided ideas and recipes that tracked Jim’s preferences and would also help him manage his chronic conditions.  

Claire and Amir also talked about monitoring blood glucose levels and keeping a log to share with the dietary and medical teams. Claire noted that, in addition to using insulin, Jim could help keep his diabetes in check through his diet. 

Managing Medication  

On the medical side, Jim’s Primary Care Provider Lauren, with help from Registered Nurse Case Manager Jennifer, simplified Jim’s diabetes medications. He went from five insulin injections per day to one.   

Lauren also started Jim on medication to help reduce the tremors. She also educated both Jim and Amir on the side effects of Jim’s new seizure medication and answered all their questions.  

One Request Makes a Big Change 

Even with all these improvements, Jim and the WelbeHealth team were still concerned about whether he could safely navigate through his home, prepare his meals, and remember to take his medication. He clearly needed regular and consistent home care.  

WelbeHealth could arrange for this, but then Amir offered an even better solution; he could move in and care for Jim. Everyone agreed this was a great idea, but there was one problem. Because Jim was in Section 8 housing, strict rules applied. He could have no extra occupants and was concerned about losing his apartment since he didn’t want to violate the rules. 

WelbeHealth Social Worker, Twyla, delivered a solution by requesting a ‘reasonable accommodation’ through Section 8. With this change, a caregiver would be allowed to live in the apartment with Jim. 

Ongoing Support  

Today, WelbeHealth’s Physical Therapist continues to visit and work on conditioning and balance. And the Home Care Coordinator arranges caregiving support to support Amir and Jim. Other team members are available to help whenever needed and answer questions. 

Libby saw Jim recently and was heartened to see he was doing well. “He looked so good, and he was practically walking independently,” she says.  

Ultimately, Libby says, the experience showed her that the people at WelbeHealth don’t hesitate to go above and beyond for their participants.  

“This really is the embodiment of our values,” she says. “It is Courage to Love, Pioneering Spirit, and Shared Intention—all coming together. We provided what this vulnerable senior needed to ‘unlock his full potential’ and live independently in his community. It is a beautiful sight to see.” 

Group of senior friends

The Importance of Friendships as You Age

Forming friendships as you age can sometimes be challenging. When you were a child, making friends may have come easily. A simple, “Can we be friends?” often brought us a dedicated playmate. If only it were that easy to make friends in our adult years!

Forming friendships can be more difficult as an adult, but it is still important. Researchers have discovered major benefits of maintaining friendships as we age. Below, we’ll fill you in on the power of friendship and share some tips on how to make friends as you get older.

Friends Add Years to Your Life

Want to live longer? Form close friendships as you age! An Australian study found that close relationships with family members had little impact on longevity. But people with the most friends outlived those with the fewest by 22%.

Keeping a close circle of friends also alleviates loneliness. In this study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, social isolation and loneliness were predictors of functional decline and death in those 60 years and older.

Not only do your friends add years to your life, but you also do the same for them. So when you’re spending time with friends, you can remind them of your life-extending superpower, and thank them for extending your life in return.

Friends Keep Your Mind Sharp

Researchers at Northwestern University have been studying SuperAgers since 2008. These are individuals who are 80 and older whose memory is similar to those 50-65 years old. They found that SuperAgers have more satisfying relationships than their peers in the control group.

“You don’t have to be the life of the party, but this study supports the theory that maintaining strong social networks seems to be linked to slower cognitive decline,” author Emily Rogalski, an associate professor at Northwestern, said in a press release.

Next time you call up a friend for lunch, remember that it will be a great social activity and benefit your brain!

How to Create Friendships as You Age

Get Involved in Your Community

There are opportunities to make friends right in your community. Your new friends may be waiting for you just a few blocks away. Here are ways to meet new people near you:

  • Help at a local food pantry
  • Mentor a child with Big Brothers, Big Sisters
  • Join a community or church choir
  • Attend city council meetings
  • Take an art class
  • Visit your local senior center
  • Join a gym and participate in group exercise classes
  • Find a support group

Accept the Awkwardness

Making new friends as adults can feel awkward. One of the best things you can do is accept that it may feel a little unnatural at first. Like any new relationship, it takes a while to feel comfortable.

Studies suggest that it takes several months to form a close friendship. Continue to ask engaging questions and get together on a regular basis. If you keep trying despite being a little uncomfortable, you’re bound to have budding friendships.

Become a WelbeHealth Participant

WelbeHealth participants enjoy the benefits of companionship and participate in activities that can help make you less likely to suffer from depression. WelbeHealth helps seniors live independently in their homes and communities and provides opportunities to socialize with new friends.

At WelbeHealth, friends:

  • Play dominoes, Bingo, and other games
  • Talk about common interests such as music and books
  • Share a bowl of popcorn while watching HBO movies
  • Eat meals together and swap favorite recipes
  • Support and check in on one another

Contact us today to see if you might qualify for WelbeHealth’s all-inclusive care for seniors.

National Kidney Month is in March

During National Kidney Month, we recognize how kidneys play an important role in keeping our bodies healthy. In fact, all the blood in our body takes a trip through these bean-shaped organs about 40 times per day!

Below, we’ll dive into what your kidneys do and how to keep them working in tip-top shape. We’ll also touch on chronic kidney disease symptoms and living kidney donors.

What do your kidneys do?

You have two kidneys on either side of your spine, between your ribs and your belly button. They are about the size of an adult fist, and they perform many complex functions to keep the rest of your body feeling well.

Most of us know that kidneys remove waste from our body. But did you know they also make hormones that regulate your blood pressure and red blood cells?

Yup, you can thank your kidneys for:

  • Removing excess fluid and waste from your body
  • Filtering toxins from your blood
  • Regulating the production of your red blood cells
  • Producing essential vitamins
  • Releasing blood pressure-regulating hormones

Over a million tiny filters, called nephrons, make up each of your kidneys. Nephrons work together to filter your blood, remove waste and return necessary nutrients back to your blood. The waste and extra water is what makes up urine.

How to keep your kidneys healthy

Now that we’ve talked about the importance of this organ duo, it’s clear why keeping them healthy is a priority.

Here are some things you can do for your kidney health:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water
  • Eat nutritious foods, like fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid eating too much salt or fat
  • Maintain a healthy blood pressure
  • Stop smoking
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Lose excess weight
  • Stay active
  • If you’re a diabetic, keep your blood sugar levels under control

Chronic kidney disease

About 1 in 7 adult Americans live with chronic kidney disease. This means their kidneys are damaged and are not functioning properly. Chronic kidney disease can be caused by diabetes, high blood pressure or an immune system disease such as lupus.

The word “chronic” is used because the disease gets worse over time. If you’re at risk for kidney disease, talk to your doctor about getting tested. The sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you can begin treatment. Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse chronic kidney disease, but there are ways to slow the progression, such as lifestyle and diet changes.

Learn about living kidney donors during National Kidney Month

Individuals with chronic kidney disease eventually need dialysis or a kidney transplant. In the U.S, 100,000 people are awaiting a kidney transplant. Healthy people with normal kidney function can become living kidney donors. Our bodies can function normally with just one kidney.

A living kidney donor could donate their organ to someone who needs a functional kidney. This could be a blood relative, spouse, or friend. Kidneys can also be donated to someone anonymously (non-directed donation).

In this National Kidney Month article, we hope you have learned more about your kidneys and how to keep them healthy.

Elder Fraud: How to Protect Yourself

The FBI estimates that American seniors lose $3 billion a year to elder fraud. Unfortunately, scammers often target seniors because they can be trusting and may have built up a healthy savings account over their lifetime.

Being aware of scams targeting seniors can help you protect yourself. It’s important to recognize the common tactics used in elder fraud so you know if it is happening to you or a loved one before it is too late.

What is Elder Fraud?

Elder fraud is any fraud that targets older adults. Scammers may target seniors by phone call, text message, email, or mail.

For victims, the financial impact of elder fraud can be devastating. The average victim of elder fraud loses around $34,000. Not only does it take a toll financially, but being a victim of fraud can hurt your mental and emotional health too.

Common Scams that Target Seniors

During the pandemic, there has been an increase in scams targeting seniors. As older adults spent more time online to connect with friends and family, fraudsters targeted seniors through emails and other online avenues.

Here are some of the top scams targeting seniors.

  • Romance Fraud
    The criminal targets widows and single elders, earning their trust. Eventually, the scammer asks for small sums of money and then larger.
  • Fake Grandchild
    Scammers will call a senior and say something like, “Hi Grandma, it’s your favorite grandchild.” Then they ask for money for rent, a car repair, or similar.
  • Charity Scams
    Using a fake charity name, criminals ask seniors to donate to a charity that supports a good cause. Online fund-raising pages can also be fraudulent.
  • Government Impersonation
    Criminals claim they work for the government and tell elders they’ll be prosecuted or fined if they do not comply with their request.
  • Tech Support Schemes
    A pop-up appears on the computer screen and says to call a number to resolve a computer issue. When the senior calls, the scammer poses as a tech support representative. They pretend to “fix” the computer remotely while gaining access to sensitive information and asking for payment in return.
  • Sweepstakes and Lottery Scams
    Criminals call or email claiming that the designated senior has won a prize. They say that an initial payment needs to be made by the individual to gain access to the prize.
  • Phishing Emails
    Phishing emails may look like they’re from a company you know or trust. Scammers disguise themselves to gain access to your passwords, bank account numbers, and other sensitive information.
  • Widow Schemes
    Scammers will call a surviving spouse after losing a husband or wife. They claim to work for a financial institution associated with the deceased spouse and claim they need money to pay for fees, overdue bills, etc.

How to Avoid Being a Victim of Elder Fraud

Scammers are always creating new tactics and avenues to target seniors. Here are steps you can take to stay on guard and protect yourself.

Hang Up and Call Back

Scammers often disguise themselves as a business or organization you’re familiar with. They may even disguise their number, so it looks like you’re receiving a call from a local area code. If you receive a call from a person claiming to be from your bank, the Social Security Office, or a particular charity, and they ask for personal information, hang up.

Then, find your most recent bank statement or the official phone number online and call back. This ensures that you speak with the legitimate organization or business.

Be Careful of Links and Attachments

Even if you know and trust the individual who sends you a link via email, social media, or text message, be cautious before clicking on it. You may want to call your friend or family member to verify that they sent you the link. Clicking on suspicious links can lead to viruses or spyware being downloaded to your device–something you want to avoid.

Be Aware of Acquaintances

Sadly, scammers aren’t always strangers. Be cautious when lending money to friends or family members with addiction issues, financial difficulties, or a history of criminal activity.

Reporting Elder Fraud and Scams

If you think you may be a victim of elder fraud, reach out to someone you trust. Don’t feel embarrassed. It’s important to address the issue before it becomes worse.

You can also report the scam to the local police, file an internet crime complaint, or call your local FBI office. Reporting the crime is the first step in getting the scam shut down so other seniors won’t be defrauded.