Technology

Cyber Security for Seniors

In the current form of the cyber world, safety has become an issue for a great many reasons. Utilizing the internet can sometimes bring more harm than good, especially when the user is rather clueless of the mechanics of it all. Over-sharing through the internet is a serious issue that is mainly common among young ones. With the recent fluctuation of users, its important to consider cyber security for seniors. They may not be very familiar with technology, and may fall prey to online dangers more easily. This is where the Center for Internet Security comes in.

 

The Threat of Scams Challenges Cyber Security for Seniors

 

One of the main concerns of internet security are scams, and their ability to spread prolifically around the globe. There are mountains of evidence of scams that have cost fortunes. Among the most common victims are the elderly who can be a little too nice, and even gullible, when it comes to sharing. On top of this fact, they are also less likely to report it. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has stated that older Americans are less likely to report a fraud, even after having experienced it.

 

A Discernible Level of Awareness

 

Internet users must be wary of suspicious messages. The elderly must be warned of ‘inviting’ messages like “Free gifts!” and “You’re a winner!” They need to be able to know their rights and limitations as internet users. Your elders must not fall for messages that call for urgency through warnings or scares of their accounts being closed, “new relatives” who suddenly need financial help, and other such scams to con them out of their money. If your elderly loved one does not have the ability to distinguish between safe and appropriate internet activity, then it might be necessary to keep their internet usage under personal watch. Check last visited sites and social media accounts every now and then if you suspect something fishy is going on.

 

Check Online Purchases

 

The need for internet precaution and watchfulness increases if your elderly loved ones like to shop online or use their credit card for other online transactions. This includes the games that they could be playing, or attempts to pay bills through their computer. Buying online has been made as simple as a few clicks, so it is important to be sure that the purchases that are made and sites that are being visited are safe. In such cases, you can consider requiring your authorization for their purchases, depending on their needs.

 

Catfishing

 

Keeping your elderly loved ones safe online is essential. Though certain internet security steps are in place, many elderly are still falling prey to online predators known as “catfish scams.” These are people with fake online profiles that try to extort money from their victims. Although, it might feel intrusive to pry on your elderly loved one’s internet activity, it is a necessary evil in keeping them safe in the long run.

 

To maintain your security, visit the official guidelines here and keep up with the latest internet safety tips.

Services to Keep Your Aging Parents Independent

As people begin to age, they begin to require additional assistance. As the child of aging parents, watching this process can be surreal and painful. The people who provided you with all your needs for so long, the seemingly invincible adults whose strength and vigor taught you what means to live with energy, slowly begin to weaken. They slow down. They don’t think as well. They age.

 

Aging parents can often use a helping hand. Food, laundry, cleaning, and many other common tasks begin to get overwhelming and even dangerous. You need to step in and help out. And yet, your parents aren’t helpless. They’re proud people. They’re still the same strong adults who grew you from a seed into the full fledged adult you are now. You don’t want to be rash. Don’t banish your beloved parents to a nursing home. Nursing homes are the source of thousands of abuse complaints every year, according to Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard.

 

Luckily, many businesses offer top notch services that will help keep your parents independent. Consider these and others like them.

Food Preparation

Cooking is hard. Even experienced professionals make dangerous mistakes. And certain techniques, like deep frying, can make any kitchen a flammable hazard. Moreover, easy meals may not be ideal for an aging person’s health. Enormous numbers of aging adults today are suffering from diabetes or prediabetes, conditions that are tricky to care for. Here are some good services to keep your folks well-fed and satisfied.

  • Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels is a classic service that helps elderly people—and others—to get nutritious food with minimal effort. Good variety, solid service, and a long history of success make this service a comfortable one.
  • Mom’s Meals. Like Meals on Wheels, Mom’s Meals provides a wide variety of nutritious frozen foods to seniors and other people with special needs. And many insurance and social services programs cover the cost.   

Home Health Aides

Home health aides aren’t quite nurses, aren’t quite cooks, aren’t quite cleaning professionals. They combine elements of all three and more. A home health aide is a professional jack-of-all-trades, someone able to adapt to whichever needs your parents have. Flexible, generous, and multi-skilled, home health are a great tool to keep your parents out of the nursing home. They’ll help cook, clean, check meds, and take care of the miscellaneous needs that arise regularly for aging people.   

Technological Solutions

An app a day may keep the nursing home away. Technology can provide all kinds of solutions for an aging parent. Don’t stereotype your elders; older people often take to cutting edge tech with the enthusiasm of a geeky teen. Health apps, communication gadgets, self-driving cars, etc. The modern world is overflowing with convenient sleek wonders that can provide your aging parents with access to all the world’s joys. And technology can keep your folks independent. Some pieces of tech may allow your parent to communicate directly with healthcare professionals without having to make direct contact; no need to have a nurse stop by twice a day—record blood sugars and upload the data from home.

 

Scams, Hoaxes, and Senior Citizens

The internet has opened up huge avenues for information and commerce. The online world has endless marketplaces, databases, and communication possibilities. That openness has been, in many ways, a precious gift for aging populations, enabling senior citizens to do research, keep up with the news, and stay connected with friends and family in remote places.

Unfortunately, the same freedom that allows for an older adult to speak with his old baseball buddy overseas with the push of button also allows him to get preyed upon by eastern European cybercriminals. One click gets you the answers to the Sunday crossword puzzle, another click transfers the contents of your life savings to a teenager in St. Petersburg. Here are a few common tricks used by by internet charlatans trying to bilk senior citizens out of their hard-earned dough.
Email

Scammers frequently fleece the elderly by claiming to be someone other than who they are via email. Common tricks include claiming to be a medicare agent, the IRS, or a falsely imprisoned member of Nigerian royalty. This scam is so effective because it elicits the happy cooperation of the victim. Instead of mugging you at knifepoint, the scammer talks you into simply handing it over. By the time you realize you’ve been duped, it’s way too late; someone somewhere’s got your money, and only thing you know about them is that they sent you an email claiming to want to help you out.
Telemarketing

It’s not just new technologies such as email that enable frauds to slip their paws into your pocketbook. Good old telephones still serve as a useful tool for these morally moribund thieves. The technology may be different, but the scam is much the same. Scammers make false claims, get seniors to hand over their personal information, and voila! The thieves hold the keys to the city.

Some telemarketers pose special problems to seniors due to their similarity to legitimate salesmen. Many may actually be actual business owners who realize they’ve got an easy sell and step up their pushiness. But most cases of fraud by telemarketers involved actual criminals who set out specifically to prey on vulnerable populations. According to fraud.org, people 60 years and older make up nearly a full third of all telemarketing scam victims.
Counterfeit Drugs

Seniors often have a complex med regimen. Scammers know this. They also know that seniors frequently have lots of money, may be in the process of cognitive decline, and were likely raised to be trusting, faithful citizens. They sell fake or stolen meds to elderly adults. Easy money. This fraud can take place by any of the previously mentioned methods: mail, email, telephone. It makes no difference. This trick can come at you from any direction.
What You Can Do

Keep in mind, if something seems too outlandish, or too good, to be true, it probably is. Very few people win the lottery. Sensitive medicaid issues will not be dealt with via email. Pharmacists will be upfront about costs and med updates.

Be vigilant. Keep these scams in mind. If something seems suspicious, speak with someone. You could help take down a predator.

AARP and Uber: An Uncertain Pair

Late last month, Uber announced a new plan to offer driving jobs for many older adults. This is in partnership with Life Reimagined, a subsidiary of AARP. They have not established a number of positions they plan to open, but press releases have made reference to extending opportunities for “millions of people [to] earn additional income as driver-partners on the Uber platform.”

What does this mean for aging adults? Does this move signal progress and jobs for a vulnerable and neglected population? Is this opportunistic PR for a company with a poor public image? Will America’s aging population embrace this offer, seeing in it a valuable and trusted role to help folks get around? Or will it reject the idea as demeaning and exploitative? Here’s a guide to help you navigate this new move.

Uber and Its Motives

Uber is a service which provides rides for its customers using a smartphone app which finds part-time drivers. Think of it as an informal taxi service. With this plan, registered semi-retired adults could sign up to make themselves available to give rides to people for a small fee.

As a company, Uber is trying to nicen up its image. The ride-sharing company was hit with many controversies in the last few years, making it and its much-touted “sharing economy” look a little dodgy and cutthroat. By partnering with a nonprofit AARP subsidiary, Uber’s may be hoping to make itself look generous and noble in the country’s eyes. Whether retired persons take this as complimentary or condescending remains to be seen.

AARP and Life Reimagined’s Role

Life Reimagined is a nonprofit subsidiary of AARP. Their goal in this is help get work for aging Americans. Uber is a modern, innovative company, and many of AARP’s members may be excited to participate in a new business model, as well as demonstrate their technological skills. Life Reimagined also grants the program credibility, ensuring that AARP has its eye on Uber and trusts them to function ethically.

Job Outlooks for the Elderly

For someone over the age of 50, getting a good job is difficult. Unemployment remains high, and many skilled workers are forced to take menial jobs making very little money. Employers often favor young, technically savvy workers, and ignore very good candidates simply due to their age.

This initiative by Uber and Life Reimagined could mean many, many jobs for people over 50, and could give technology-inclined older adults a chance to strut their stuff. This could provide a double advantage: income, and stereotype shattering. Both would be of significant benefit to AARP’s members.

The big question: will AARP members go for it? Will they see this as a great opportunity to get out, make some money, and show off their ability to adapt to the changing modern work world? Or will they scorn this move as taking advantage of the fact that it’s difficult to find good work? Uber provides a living wage, but a driver’s salary comes nowhere near the six figures many out-of-work AARP members are accustomed to. While the answers are uncertain, AARP’s presence is a good sign; their involvement will grant credibility for Uber, and will ensure its new employees have a powerful advocate on their side.

Essential Tech for Senior Citizens

Senior citizens have earned the right to live how they choose, where they choose, and in many cases, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not a welcome option. Aging bodies and failing health can make independent living more difficult as time goes by. Fortunately, technology is available to help the elderly maintain their independence and remain longer in their homes.

Hardware for Senior Citizens

In an article published on Home Care, the founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch discusses the top tech devices for senior citizens. Included among those devices are:

  • Wireless tracking system with sensors that lets a remote caregiver track an elderly person’s activities and check on the elder at any time using a secure webpage. The system will alert caregivers of any disruptions by text, phone, or email.
  • GPS mobile personal emergency response system that allows the user to summon emergency assistance by simply pushing a button. The system consists of a base station, a mobile unit, and a button worn as a pendant or on the wrist. A push of the button connects the user to a mobile help operator who can send help to the correct location even if the user is unable to communicate.
  • Medication management system that dispenses meds, reminds the user to take them, keeps an inventory, and alerts and posts compliance information, which is accessible through any device with internet capability. Medications can be inserted into the unit by a pharmacy or the caregiver.
  • Wireless activity tracker to help senior citizens lead healthier lives. It tracks calories burned, distance traveled, steps taken, stairs climbed, and quality of sleep.
  • TV ears that enable elderly people with hearing loss to hear TV without turning up the volume. Users can set their own tone and volume without affecting others. The device reduces background noise and increases clarity and word discrimination.

Software for the Elderly

Apps can make life easier, and a number of apps are designed especially for senior citizens. A Senior Net blog lists a number of iPhone or iPad apps helpful for seniors:

  • Pillboxie reminds seniors to take their medications, and equally important, tells them which medication to take and when.
  • Eyereade allows the user turn the phone into a magnifying glass with a light to brighten the text.
  • Luminosity helps users of any age sharpen their minds with games designed by neuroscientists to enhance attention, memory, and other mental skills.
  • Skype lets seniors view friends and family while talking to them in video conferences.
  • Park’n’Forget lets you punch in the level, aisle, or spot where you parked to help you find your car.