October 1 of each year is National Seniors Day, which coincides with the United Nations International Day of Older Persons and is an occasion for Canadians to celebrate the profound contributions of seniors in our homes, communities and workplaces. For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish, we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute. We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to safely mature and grow older — places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity. This year marks the 10th Anniversary of National Seniors Day in Canada and due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, a more solemn milestone as well.
Join CARP and special guests for an interactive online event honouring Canada’s seniors and those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 .
More than 82% of COVID-19 related deaths are connected to long-term care homes—over 7,500 vulnerable residents have succumbed to the virus to date. More than just a statistic, this number represents real people with names and faces, and with important life stories that must be remembered.
With this in mind, CARP is hosting Canada’s largest-ever virtual meeting of seniors to talk about what happened and why, as well as how to protect our vulnerable older people in the coming months. Just as importantly, the event serves to remember those who lost their lives; not as statistics, but as parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors—real people who we failed to protect. A national Minute of Silence will serve as a powerful reminder that one death due to negligence in long-term care is one too many.
The free online event, comprising both a national and regional portion which will directly tackle seniors’ issues in your part of Canada, brings together a panel of very special guests to explore critical topics affecting older adults and offers an empowering message of hope on this milestone occasion.
Click Here for Event Information: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/carp-national-seniors-day-online-event-tickets-115086631212
CARP (Canadian Association for Retired Persons) is Canada’s largest advocacy association for older Canadians. Today CARP has more than 320,000 members. As a non-partisan association, CARP is committed to working with all parties in government to advocate for older Canadians. Its mission is to advocate for better healthcare, financial security, and freedom from ageism. CARP members engage in polls and petitions, email their elected representatives, connect with local chapters and share stories and opinions on urgent issues. Most CARP members also subscribe to ZOOMER Magazine, watch ZoomerTelevision/VisionTV, and listen to Zoomer Radio (AM740/96.7FM/ZoomerRadio.ca). For more information, please visit https://www.carp.ca
“National Seniors Day is a way for Canada to celebrate seniors for their generous contribution to our families, our communities, our workplaces and our country. Celebrating the day annually will help raise awareness about seniors’ contributions and the important roles they play in Canadian society.” – Government of Canada
Government Resources: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/seniors/forum.html
Age Safe® Canada develops training programs and certifications to empower senior services providers to better help decrease falls and fall-related injuries.
Advancing Successful Aging at Home™
While it’s important for seniors to remain connected, entertained and active through the use of technology, it is equally important for them to exercise caution and interest safety. None of us are exempt from Internet scams, but unfortunately, many scammers specifically target senior citizens. Senior citizens are often at an increased risk for Internet scams and fraud due to a variety of unique vulnerabilities. Lack of computer skills, limited Internet skills, and being more trusting and generous are just a few of the factors that put seniors at risk of falling victim to elaborate online scams.
Here are some helpful tips for ensuring you practice Internet Safety 101:
Keep your computer properly secured. Ensure you install reliable security software, set up automatic updates, turn on a firewall, and use secure passwords. You may need to hire a computer technician to get this setup, but exercise caution anytime you give access to your computer to an outside company. Ensure you choose a reputable company who is fully licensed and bonded. Beware of anyone who contacts you to inform you there is something wrong with your computer – even if they claim to work for Microsoft, Dell, Apple, or other common computer companies. NEVER give anyone remote access to your computer who has contacted you offering “help” or warning of a security breach; hang up your phone and take your computer to a reliable technician to have it looked at instead.
Don’t overshare. Social networking sites and sites who cater to older users are often targeted with quizzes and surveys that are in fact scams; these quizzes often ask invasive questions about private information such as health, wealth, assets, income, number of children, and family names. While some of these quizzes may not be scams it is best to exercise caution anytime you are dealing with the Internet and stray away from giving out any personal information about yourself or your family on an online quiz or survey.
Exercise caution with online dating. Online dating is becoming increasingly popular for senior citizens. Many seniors have lost their partner to death or divorce and may be lonely. Online dating is an excellent way to meet new people, and many people find success with it. Online dating is also an easy way for predators to find potential victims for their scams, most often with the goal to get money from them. Therefore, if engaging in online dating ensure you exercise some basic precautions: NEVER wire money or mail cash to someone you’ve met online – no matter what sob story they give you, if you decide to meet in person ensure you do so in a public place and also tell your loved ones when and where you will be meeting, never give out your address or personal phone number unless you have built a great rapport and are ready to take your online dating relationship to the next level with in-person dating.
Other Key Internet Safety Tips for Seniors:
- Don’t trust a link sent to you by someone you do not know, and DO NOT click on it.
- Never trust an email asking for account information or credit card information.
- If a deal is too good to be true, IT IS NOT TRUE!
- Never send money to another country, state, or a stranger.
- The best scams warn of fraud and offer to help save you from fraud. If you are concerned your computer, email, or online account has been compromised reach out to someone you find that is reputable – don’t trust someone who reaches out to you.
- If you did not enter the lottery or a sweepstake than you did not win a lottery or sweepstakes. Do not believe that if you give a little money to claim your prize you will get a lot of money back – true lottery winners do not need to pay anything up front to claim their winnings.
Senior crime prevention
Crime and the fear of crime create special problems for the elderly. Crime prevention is everyone’s responsibility, not just a job for law enforcement. Seniors can learn how to protect themselves from crime by following these simple, commonsense suggestions.
• Never open your door automatically. Install and use a peephole.
• Lock your doors and windows. (Three-quarters of the burglaries involving older persons involved unlocked doors and windows; and less than one half of these robberies are reported.) Keep your garage doors locked.
• Vary your daily routine.
• Use “Neighbor Watch” to keep an eye on your neighborhood. A concerned neighbor is often the best protection against crime, because suspicious persons and activities are noticed and reported to police promptly.
• Don’t leave notes on the door when going out.
• Leave lights on when going out at night. When you are gone for more than a day, make sure your home looks and sounds occupied; use a timer to turn lights on and off when you are away for an extended period.
• Notify neighbors and the police when going away on a trip. Cancel deliveries such as newspapers and arrange for someone – a neighbor’s child, perhaps – to mow the lawn if need be. Arrange for your mail to be held by the Post Office, or ask a neighbor to collect it for you.
• Be wary of unsolicited offers to make repairs to your home. Deal only with reputable businesses.
• Keep an inventory with serial numbers and photographs of resaleable appliances, antiques and furniture. Leave copies in a safe place.
• Don’t hesitate to report crimes or suspicious activities.
• Install deadbolt locks on all your doors.
• Keep your home well lit at night, inside and out; keep curtains closed.
• Ask for proper identification from delivery persons or strangers. Don’t be afraid of asking … if they are legitimate they won’t mind.
• If a stranger asks to use your telephone, offer to place the call for him or her yourself.
• Never let a stranger into your home,
* Do not hide your keys under the mat or in other conspicuous places.
• Never give out information over the phone indicating you are alone or that you won’t be home at a certain time.
If you arrive at home and suspect a stranger may be inside, do not go in. Leave quietly and call 911 to report the crime.
When out walking:
• If you are attacked on the street, make as much noise as possible by calling for help or blowing a whistle. Do not pursue your attacker. Call 911 and report the crime as soon as possible.
• Avoid walking alone at night. Try to have a friend accompany you in high risk areas … even during the daytime.
• Avoid carrying weapons. They may be used against you.
• Always plan your route and stay alert to your surroundings. Walk confidently.
• Stay away from buildings and doorways; walk in well-lit areas.
• Have your key ready when approaching your front door.
• Don’t dangle your purse away from your body. (Twelve per cent of all crimes against the elderly are handbag/ wallet snatchings and street robberies.)
• Don’t carry large, bulky shoulder bags; carry only what you need. Better yet, sew a small pocket inside your jacket or coat. If you don’t have a handbag, no one will try to snatch it.
• Carry your handbag very close to you … don’t dangle it from your arm. Never leave it in a shopping cart. Never leave your handbag unattended.
• Don’t carry any more cash than is necessary. Most stores accept debit or credit cards instead of cash.
• Don’t display large sums of cash.
In your vehicle:
• Always keep your car doors locked, whether you are in or out of your car. Keep the fuel tank full and your engine properly maintained to avoid breakdowns.
• If your car breaks down, pull over to the left as far as possible, raise the bonnet, and wait INSIDE the car for help. Avoid getting out of the car and making yourself a target before police arrive.
• At stop signs and traffic lights, keep the car in gear.
• Travel well-lit and busy streets. Plan your route.
• Don’t leave your handbag/ wallet on the seat beside you; put it on the floor, where it is more difficult for someone to grab it.
• Lock bundles or bags in the boot. If interesting packages are out of sight, a thief will be less tempted to break in to steal them.
• When returning to your car, check the front and back seat before entering.
• Never pick up hitchhikers.
• Be wary of con artists and get-rich schemes that probably are too good to be true.
• Store valuables in a Safe Deposit Box.
• Never give your money to someone who calls on you, identifying himself as a bank official. A bank will never ask you to remove your money.
• Banks need the use of your money, and they don’t want one of their customers to invite crime by having large amounts of cash around.
• When someone approaches you with a get-rich-quick-scheme involving some or all of YOUR savings, it is HIS get-rich-quick-scheme. If it is a legitimate investment, the opportunity to contribute your funds will still be there tomorrow – after you have had time to consider it.
• If you have been swindled or conned, report the crime to your local police. Con artists count on their victim’s reluctance to admit they’ve been duped, but if you delay you help them get away. Remember, if you never report the crime, they are free to cheat others again and again and you have no chance of ever getting your money back.
Sometimes deadbolts and alarm systems just aren’t enough to deter thieves. But there are outdoor security measures you can take to prevent property loss at the hands of a burglar. While pleasing to look at, landscaping can do more than enhance your home’s outdoor aesthetic. Consider whether your current setup promotes security or makes your home more appealing to thieves. Use these landscaping security tips to help prevent your home from becoming the target of a burglary. Here are 9 ways you can help protect your home with a well-planned landscape design.
- Use plant deterrents. Thorny shrubs and bushes like holly or roses help thwart would-be burglars. Plant barrier shrubs, which are any plants that have sharp leaves or spiny thorns. These help make your property less attractive to robbers. Common areas to plant them include along your property line — this helps to force intruders or trespassers toward visible, “official” access points like your driveway where you’ll be more likely to see them — and under your windows.
- Prune vegetation regularly. Unkempt hedges provide hiding spots where perpetrators can lurk. Prune back any stands of ornamental grass, hedges and shrubs in your front yard to a height of 2 feet or less. Plants that are taller than this are commonly used by robbers to sneak up to your house without being seen by you or your neighbors.
- Trim the trees. Leave sufficient distance between tree branches and the roof or second-story windows to limit intruder access. Leave a clear line of sight to windows or doors. Blocking these views leaves your home more vulnerable to break-ins.
- Invest in accent lights. Illuminate your yard to eliminate potential hiding spots. Check monthly to verify that any existing lights on the exterior of your house are in working order. Consider installing automated lights that turn on with a motion sensor, focusing the lights on access areas to your home, such as a side door or your garage door. Install additional lighting. Don’t just rely on the porch light. Consider adding motion-sensitive lighting to help ward off possible intruders.
- Put gravel beneath ground-floor windows. Burglars rely on silence; stepping on gravel can be a startling repellent.
- Protect the back door. Many thieves try this less obvious point of entry first.
- Replace solid privacy fences. Solid fencing helps intruders go undetected. Partial privacy fencing is a more secure option.
- Lock all gates. It seems obvious, but it’s still worth a mention. Keep front and back gates locked at all times. Lock up your garden shed and always store garden tools, such as shovels and hammers, under lock and key. Such landscaping tools are commonly used by robbers to break windows or force entry into your home.
- Keep your grass mowed, yard raked, flowerbeds regularly weeded and your mail picked up. An unkempt lawn or newspapers and mail on your front step often signal to robbers that you aren’t home often. If you plan to travel, hire someone to maintain your landscape while you’re gone.
Cold Callers are people who come to your door that you do not know. Some doorstep sellers are honest, but unfortunately there are some rogue traders who target their victims by making uninvited ‘cold calls’ and offering to provide goods or services. The rogues target seniors and those less able to check the quality of the work or who may be easily intimidated into parting with large sums of money. These goods or services are poor quality, but when consumers try to complain they find it difficult or impossible to contact the trader who often refuses to return or has disappeared.
A couple common ‘scams’ include:
Someone knocks on your door claiming to be working in the area and that they have some materials with which to resurface your drive at a cut price rate. They may state that they have been doing work for the city or county and have materials left over. Work done is usually of very poor quality and the final bills are often far higher than what was originally quoted. Although they can be quite charming in their attempts to get you to agree to the work, they often turn threatening when it comes to the time to pay. Many go as far as to drive older people to the bank in order that they may withdraw more money. A few months later, when there are weeds coming through the asphalt and the company has vanished with little hope of finding them.
Roofing, home repairs & garden maintenance
Sometimes workmen cold call and offer to do home repairs like roofing, guttering, fascia work or garden maintenance. Often the work they do is unnecessary and in some cases did not need doing at all. Even if the work was required, it may be done to a very poor standard and the final bill will be far higher than their initial verbal quote. These workmen may become threatening when they demand payment and will leave an invoice with very little contact information. If there are problems with the work, it will then be very difficult to contact them to get them to come back and resolve any problems.
It is sometimes difficult to say ‘No’. Doorstep traders are often trained in high pressure sales techniques and can be very persuasive. You always have the right to say ‘I do not buy from cold callers.
Take control of the situation
It is often difficult to spot a rogue company so:
- DON’T buy from doorstep traders.
- Fix a security chain to your door and use it.
- Display a sticker on your door saying No Solicitors.
- Only open the door if you have the chain on.
- Check identification of callers and ask to see their ID and then phone the company.
- If you have any doubts about the person on your doorstep say ‘No thank you’ and close the door. If they refuse to go away tell them that you will call the police.
- If you are alone ask the caller to come back and arrange for someone else to be present.
If you have any evidence that workmen are using ‘scams’ in your area, don’t confront them. Just get as much information as you can and contact your local Police.
- Don’t make a ‘snap’ decision. Never be persuaded by the argument that this is ‘the only opportunity because this offer ends tomorrow’ or ‘we are only in the area this week’.
- Don’t sign a contract until you are completely happy with it.
- Don’t pay a deposit unless you have to and only pay a very small amount.
- Don’t pay for the work or materials in advance. Most reputable builders do not need payment in advance.
- Don’t pay cash. Pay with a check (which can be traced if necessary) or if the service or goods cost more than $100 then use a credit card as this offers extra protection.
- Don’t let the trader escort you to the bank to take out money to pay them. If they are threatening or insistent then call the police on 911.
Some final words of advice
Do not assume that all advertisements in Yellow Pages, other business directories or local papers are from bona fide traders. It is rare for publishers to check the credentials of people who advertise with them. Similarly an address and 800 number do not necessarily signify a reputable business.
According to the NCOA (National Coalition on Aging), the top 10 scams involving elderly targets are as follows:
- Health Care/Medicare/Health Insurance Fraud.
Example: criminals pose as Medicare or healthcare employees.
- Counterfeit Prescription Drugs.
Example: victims buy prescriptions over the Internet to save money, then receive unsafe, unapproved drugs which result in serious health issues, and sometimes even death.
- Funeral & Cemetery Scams.
Example: criminals will call
the grieving relative of the deceased, claiming they had an unpaid debt, and try to extort money; or funeral homes will charge unnecessarily high fees to unknowing victims.
- Fraudulent Anti-Aging products.
Example: fake Botox injections. Make-shift labs create fake Botox but use the real main ingredient, which is one of the most toxic substances known, and the victim receives an injection of the unapproved drugs—with horrible results.
- Telemarketing/Phone Scams. Example: criminals pose as a grandchild or other relative who just had an accident or was unlawfully jailed and needs money wired immediately. IRS scams are HUGE right now. Criminal call random numbers, threatening enforcement action unless the victims pay money owed to the “IRS”. Fake charity scammers also place calls after natural disasters.
- Internet Fraud.
Example: Phishing– criminals pose as a legitimate company, or even the IRS, and ask individuals to verify and update personal information, which is later used fraudulently by the criminal.
- Investment Schemes.
Example: criminals target seniors who are looking to safeguard their cash and use pyramid schemes or promises of quick financial growth through complicated investment strategies.
- Homeowner/Reverse Mortgage Scams.
Example: a scammer will offer other property or money in exchange for the title to the victim’s home and the victim ends up losing their home.
- Sweepstakes & Lottery Scams.
Example: victim is told they won a prize and receives a check, which eventually bounces, but in the meantime the victim sends money to cover the prize ‘fees and taxes.’
- The Grandparent Scam. Example: criminal calls an elderly victim posing as their grandchild in need of financial assistance, but insists they not tell his/her parents as they will get into trouble. This is especially notorious as the criminal plays on the victim’s heartstrings.