Independent living, in the context of eldercare, is seen as just one step in the continuum of care. Senior independent living refers to housing communities for senior citizens between the ages of 55 and 65+. People who live in these communities are normally healthy and need minimal support and/or medical help.
Independent living communities are apartments, cottages or condominiums which offer residents the freedom to come and go as they please. Another bonus to independent living is that the communities are strictly set up for senior citizens, so residents are with others in the same age groups. Most independent living communities offer a variety of community and shared programs such as shopping and casino trips. Depending on the independent living community, residents can enjoy a variety of meal plan options, housekeeping services, both inside and outside maintenance and landscaping, assistance with laundry, and other services of convenience. Seniors usually pay for independent living out of their own assets, and, if eligible, veteran benefits may offer some assistance as well.
retirement centers and senior apartments are other terms used for independent
living. The physical structures of
facilities that qualify as independent living residences are very diverse.
Planned communities may consist of single-family or attached homes, mobile or
manufactured homes, high-rise or low-rise apartments, cluster housing, standard
subdivisions, or any other structure and layout that works for elderly
residents. Congregate housing and senior apartments generally consist of
converted private homes or apartment complexes. In general, facilities may
offer any number of designs and layouts.
A high percentage of retirement communities and independent living facilities provide common areas for meals and socializing. In larger planned communities, common areas may consist of a full community center designed as a separate structure or wing of the facility. In smaller facilities, common areas may simply consist of a community dining room, an open sitting area or any other space dedicated to multipurpose use for groups of residents. A portion of the facility cost often reflects the amount of community space that is provided.
Recreational and social activities in retirement communities and independent living facilities vary as much as the facilities themselves. Some communities have full-time directors for these services, while others offer only informal activities arranged by residents themselves. Depending upon the age and resources of residents, activity calendars may range from plentiful to sparse.
Medical and personal care services generally do not vary quite as much as other kinds of services in retirement communities and independent living facilities. Virtually all facilities in the latter category require that any medical or personal care services to be provided by local visiting nurse and/or homecare agencies. Some facilities, especially those advertised as congregate living or senior apartments, may have a social worker on staff to assist residents to contact such agencies. In other communities, administrators may provide such help when there is no social worker available.
By comparison, nursing home and assisted living facilities are set up in more hospital-like surroundings with around-the-clock medical care available. These facilities are for senior citizens who need constant care and cannot function independently. While some independent living facilities may have a nurse on staff that can help with small medical needs, they are not equipped to care for residents who need excessive medical attention and support.
today are living longer lives and enjoying better health than any generation
that came before them. Today's seniors don't automatically turn to nursing
homes when they start to need extra assistance. They look to other, less
restrictive options, like independent living and assisted living facilities.
Independent living is for seniors who do not need assistance with their activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, managing medications and going to the bathroom. If a person in independent living becomes unable to manage his or her own ADLs, that individual must eventually transition to an assisted living or, other care facility which offers the needed support and services.
Typically, a retirement community or independent living facility may be suitable for an individual if:
The cost of retirement communities and independent living facilities is extremely variable. At the low end are subsidized housing, congregate living and senior apartments, most of which charge a percentage of the residents' income. Subsidies to make up the true cost of the facility are provided by public or private charities.
At the high end are planned retirement communities that require the purchase of a separate home, unit or cooperative share as a price of admission. The cost to “buy in” is reflected by the local real estate market for housing of similar location and quality, plus the cost of physical amenities provided by the facility or the community management. In the U.S., these entrance costs can range between $100,000 and $1 million. Once the buy-in costs are satisfied, the typical monthly cost for these planned communities can be anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000 which pays for taxes, common utilities and services provided to residents.
In between low- and high-end facilities are the retirement communities and independent living facilities which operate strictly on a rental basis, plus a monthly charge for services, but without the requirement of a “buy in”. Rent and service fees tend to reflect the cost of luxury housing in the local community. Fees in the urban Northeast, for example, can be substantially higher per month than the national average for a comfortable facility and a service package that includes meals, housekeeping and linens. In general, average monthly costs can range from $1,500 to $6,000 per month for an independent living facility.
Because of the wide variations in facility types, their design, services and costs associated with living in a retirement community or independent living facility, a thoughtful plan should be developed before making a final decision. Visits to as many facilities as possible to learn the details of each one is strongly suggested in order to make an informed choice.
Almost a year ago, hackers were running a scam offering refunds from companies that were allegedly “going out of business”. The truth of the matter was that none of these companies were really shutting down. Instead, hackers were using this claim as an excuse to gain the personal banking information of their victims, so they could “process” the unexpected refund.
Today, this “refund scam” has resurfaced and one business the scammers claim to represent in particular is your “antivirus provider”. The scammers know, with our ever-growing dependency on technology, most people have a computer or mobile device that probably has antivirus protection on it. Scammers are exploiting this fact by calling unsuspecting victims claiming to represent their “antivirus company”, which they then claim is “going out of business”. Their comments remain vague, being careful not to disclose a company or product name. Instead, they wait for the victim to respond with something like “Oh, PC Matic?”. And just like that, they have the information they need. Often, the victim doesn’t think twice that they’ve just given the hackers the information they needed to appear to be legitimately from their security company.
This is exactly what happened recently to a 67-year-old Arkansas resident. After naively providing her banking information for the “refund” to go into her bank account, the scammer called back saying an error had occurred and the wrong amount was transferred to her account. He then said she would need to transfer back thousands of dollars to correct the error. It was then, she realized it was a scam. She immediately hung up and froze her bank accounts.
First, let your common sense prevail. Companies are not going to call every customer offering a refund if they should be forced to go out of business. Instead, they would likely do a major press release and/or send out a letter or email confirming the company’s doors are closing. Taking the time to notify each customer by phone is not realistic. If you receive a call like this, you’re encouraged to tell them you know it’s a scam. They will likely hang up, and not call again. By the way, the number which appears on your caller ID is almost certainly not the scammer’s real number so, it’s probably pointless to try reporting it to the authorities.
Also, do your due diligence and share this information with your friends and family. The more people know the less likely they are to fall victim.
Stay safe out there!
Microsoft has released plans to end support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020.
The end of life (EOL) of Windows 7 means Microsoft will no longer provide security patches, software updates, or customer support to Windows 7 users. Fortunately, users have plenty of time to update their systems to Windows 10. For many home users, updating to Windows 10 will not be a major issue. Businesses, however, may face larger complications.
Moving a business over to an entirely new operating systems can lead to major complications. This is due to outdated systems that aren’t compatible with Windows 10, training new employees on a new system, ensuring qualified tech staff is available for the transition, and the cost associated with all the above. In addition, some of the recent Windows 10 updates have created more problems than benefits. This in and of itself has left businesses in no rush to migrate to this particular operating system. Unfortunately, there are few options available for businesses running Windows 7.
For all users, it’s important to know that just because Microsoft is no longer supporting the OS, doesn’t mean it will stop working. Therefore, users can continue running the OS, but at their own risk. The lack of support means security patches and updates will not be available. Therefore, all known security vulnerabilities that are typically patched by Microsoft, will be left exposed, creating potential security risks.
If users opt to keep Windows 7, their best line of defense will be to use an application called a “whitelist” as their primary method of malware detection. A whitelist will not patch the known security holes but will prevent all malicious entities from running on your device. Therefore, if a hacker attempts to exploit these known security gaps by installing malware — the whitelist will not allow it to run, as it is not a known safe program.
The second option is for users to pay for extended Microsoft support. To determine the cost associated with this, users are encouraged to contact Microsoft directly.
Lastly, users can develop and implement a plan to transition their PCs from Windows 7 to Windows 10. Even if this option is chosen, an application whitelist security solution should still be implemented to effectively thwart malware attacks and keep data and endpoints secure.
The Veterans Affairs Department and U.S. Postal Inspection Service have issued warnings to veterans regarding two kinds of scams which are specifically targeting former service members. The first involves fake charities posing as legitimate organizations offering benefits to the needy veteran population. The second fraudulent scam claims to be a service that offers pension buyouts to veterans. Both are becoming more prevalent and dangerous to the veteran community, VA spokespersons said recently.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the non-profit AARP say they are noticing more fake charities using names that sound very real and authentic as a ploy to convince veterans to donate money. These fraudulent organizations attempt to appeal to a veteran’s sense of duty and honor when soliciting donations. Most of these “charities” are pocketing the donations for themselves, the agencies said. One scammer operated two fake charities and pocketed the veterans’ donations, then used the personal information written on the checks to steal donor identifies and take even more cash, according to the VA.
Before donating to a charity, veterans should verify the organization’s name and do some research about their mission and reputation, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said. In addition, veterans should understand where their donations will go and who will benefit from them specifically. The Postal Inspection Service and VA recommend “CharityWatch” as a resource, which reviews charities’ financial statements and gives organizations a rating based on their transparency and spending.
Still other scammers are attempting to go after veteran pensions. For most veterans, their VA pensions are critical to their financial situations. But the Postal Inspection Service said some fraudulent companies are offering veterans a “pension advance” or “buyout”. In these situations, a company offers a veteran who may be experiencing a short-term financial hardship a lump sum in exchange for a piece of all future pension payments. Those veterans may see this as an attractive option, especially if they are looking for fast cash. However, VA and the Postal Inspection Service say these schemes are typically a bust, because these companies often charge very high interest rates. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has seen some interest rates as high as 106 percent, the agencies said. The Postal Inspection Service suggested veterans avoid high fees and interest rates, and that they should never sign over control of their benefits. Again, these organizations often have patriotic-sounding names and logos and sometimes claim they have been endorsed by the VA.
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Here is a list of passwords which were compiled from millions of user accounts that were “hacked” this past year. It suggests plenty of people aren’t making much effort to create secure passwords. The top five passwords don’t vary much from year to year… which means people keep using the same predictable passwords, which make it that much easier for anyone to get into their accounts.
Here are this year’s top worst 25 passwords:
Even if you aren’t a security pro, you can probably see a problem here. Seven of those passwords are simply a straight row of characters across the keyboard (presumably to whatever number of characters a particular password requires). And they aren’t the only patterns on the list: “111111” and “666666” are even lazier. Then there’s the perennial “password,” which is certainly easy to remember — but, it’s also the first password any hacker will try. A variation on this basic password is also inevitably on the worst passwords list: “password1” may be a little more complicated than the simple “password,” but it isn’t much better. If “password” is a hacker’s first guess, this will be the second.
Even worse, “123456” and “password” have made the top two spots on the worst passwords list for six years in a row! That implies that not only are these lousy passwords getting used, but they keep getting used.
New to the list this year was “donald,” debuting in the #23 slot. And while it’s a bit better than “password,” setting your password to the name of the president still isn’t very secure.
So how can you keep your online accounts — and thus your personal information — safe? The first step is making sure none of your none of your password are on SplashData's worst passwords of the year list. If you are, you should log on and change them immediately. Then make sure you’re creating a strong password. A good password needs to:
The holidays to which we looked forward with such anticipation are here. Despite all the planning and celebration, this time of year can be particularly stressful, especially if it closely follows the death of a loved one. Friends and family members may be unsure how to act or what to say to support the bereaved during the holidays. More importantly, those who are grieving may not know how to talk with their family and friends let alone what to tell them about how they feel.
In general, the best way to help those who are grieving during the holidays is to simply let them know you care. They need to know they are not alone, and they need to know the one who died is remembered as well. You should never be afraid of saying or doing the “wrong thing” because just making an effort and showing your concern will be much appreciated.
It’s important to remember that grief is a normal response to and process for loss. It is sometimes referred to as “the price we all pay for having loved someone”. There is no time limit on the grief process. Each of us needs and should take all the time necessary to do our individual grief work. And, each of us will do our grief work differently and in ways unique to our own needs.
During the holidays, it’s most important to recognize that it’s still OK to have a “good time”. If we should catch ourselves having fun with the children or, feeling good about being with our friends at the dinner table, it’s not something about which you should feel guilty. Above all, it’s important to know all the feelings and emotions that emerge during this time of grief are normal.
Some tips for the holidays shared by those in grief include, but are not limited to the following:
° Be supportive of the way in which your grieving friend chooses to celebrate the holidays. Some may wish to follow traditions; others may choose to change their rituals.
° Offer to help with tangible tasks such as baking, cleaning, or decorating. For those dealing with grief, simple tasks can be overwhelming and a little help can go a long way.
° Invite a grieving friend to attend a religious service with you and your family, but don’t be discouraged if you are turned down. Suggest taking a walk or perhaps bringing a lunch to your friend or loved one after church service would be appreciated instead.
° Offer to help with holiday shopping or share your favorite catalogs or on-line shopping sites. Picking up a package at the post office or store might be appreciated.
° Invite your friend to your home for the holidays.
° Inquire if your friend or loved one is interested in volunteering with you during the holidays. Doing something for someone else, such as helping at a “soup kitchen” or working with children may help your friend feel better about the holidays.
° Make a donation in memory of your friend’s loved one, as a reminder that his or her special person in not forgotten.
° Never tell anyone in grief that he or she should be “over it”; grief is an individual process with its own timeline and there are no “right or wrong” ways to grieve.
° If your friend wants to talk about the deceased loved one or their feelings about the loss, LISTEN, but do not judge. Don’t worry about being conversational or knowing all the answers…just listen.
° Remind your friend that you are thinking of him or her and the loved one who died. Sympathy or friendship cards, telephone calls, and visits are all great ways to stay in touch.
° Keep in mind, rituals help us to remember. Simple expressions of love such as lighting a candle on special occasions; looking at old photographs together and sharing fond memories; writing letters to the deceased; visiting the grave-site; making a special holiday ornament with the loved one’s picture on it; or simply talking about the loved one are all good ways to “give voice” to grief.
It is important for each of us to remember that grief is a process, that it can be worked through and, that seeking and accepting support from others as we do our grief work, is both healthy and self-affirming. Expertise can be found in support groups and through expert counseling. Community hospice programs are a valuable resource for those who struggling with grief and loss. If you recognize a need to talk with someone about a loss and your own grief process, or your loved one asks you to help, contact your local hospice organization to inquire about support groups and/or counseling.
Resources used in the preparation of this material include:
On Grief and Grieving – Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler, Scribner, New York, 2005.
Grief’s Courageous Journey – A Workbook, Sandi Kaplan and Gordon Lang, New Harbinger Publications, Oakland, California, 1996.
Don’t Ask for the Dead Man’s Golf Clubs – What to Do and Say (and What Not to) When a Friend Loses a Loved One, Lynn Kelly, Workman Publishing, New York, 2000.
A few classmates had inquired about the PowerPoint presentations that were shown during our 50th and 55th Reunion dinner/dance events. For those who have Microsoft Office PowerPoint capability on your computers, the following link will run the presentation for you. For those who don't have MS Office, it may run using a generic application. Good luck!