Aging & Caregiving in the News

Related topics: Health & Wellness, Legal & Financial, Safety

Information, updates, and interesting tidbits from around the country and the world

  • Doctors should speak up about the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Social isolation raises the risk of falls.
  • An epidemic of Social Security fraud.

Senior woman talking with her doctor

Doctors Urged to Discuss COVID-19 Vaccine With Patients

"We're lonely, we're bored, we want to hug our grandkids—we just want things to be normal again!" Most any senior will tell you that, though most know that "normal" will only happen when most people are vaccinated. Yet many people are hesitating to get the vaccine—and that concern is mostly stemming from things they see on Facebook. "People have to be really careful about what they're seeing and what they're reading because there is so much misinformation circulating on social media," said Washington State University professor Porismita Borah. "Sometimes this misinformation is circulated by friends and family members without any sort of bad intention—they just share it, so it's extremely important to get information from trusted sources."

What could overcome this barrage of misinformation about the vaccine? Borah says that family physicians could play an important part. "Doctors could voluntarily reach out to patients, even by email, to let them know what the COVID-19 vaccine means," said Borah. "They can answer questions like how was the vaccine made? What should patients expect? Why are there two doses? I think there might be many questions people have which can be easily answered by primary care physicians who are usually well trusted by the general public." If you know someone who is hesitating to be vaccinated, encourage them to talk to their doctor!

Staying Socially Connected Lowers the Risk of Falling

Families, senior services agencies and senior living communities have been working hard to keep older adults socially connected during the pandemic, knowing that isolation is bad for mental and physical health. Recent research reveals yet another reason seniors should overcome social isolation. Epidemiologist Daisy Fancourt of University College London found that seniors who live alone and have little social contact with others have an 18% higher risk of falls, and are up to 42% more likely to be hospitalized due to a fall injury.

Fancourt suggests several reasons that explain this association. First, families and friends are often the ones to note that an older person's home is unsafe, or that they are having problems with balance, vision and muscle weakness—and they step in to help the senior improve home safety and keep up with health care. In addition, stress and depression from loneliness also lead to a decline in strength and overall health. Read more about this study here.

People on Social Security Face an Epidemic of Fraud

Worried senior woman on the phone

CNBC recently reported that in only three months, over half of all older adults in the U.S. were targeted by Social Security-related scams—some of them repeatedly. Fraudsters bombarded these seniors with live phone calls, robo-calls, texts and email. A scammer might pretend to be a government employee, telling the senior that there is something wrong with their Social Security card, asking for their personal information, demanding they pay a fine, or threatening arrest. The crook might threaten to cut off a recipient's benefits, or even to increase them—for a fee, often to be paid with gift cards (a sure red flag). If you or an older loved one are contacted by one of these thieves, hang up and report it to https://oig.ssa.gov.

The best "vaccination" against this epidemic is education and awareness! The Social Security Administration has created a Fraud Prevention and Reporting resources page (www.ssa.gov/antifraudfacts) with lots of good information. This handy infographic is a good place to start for a quick course in the wiles these scammers use, and how to avoid and report them.


Source: IlluminAge Communication Partners; copyright 2021 IlluminAge