ComForCare Home Care Serving Somerset & Northern Middlesex Countries

Archive for April, 2020

Beware COVID-19 Scammers

Monday , April 27 , 2020

Beware COVID-19 Scammers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that Americans have lost nearly $13.5 million in COVID-19-related scams since the beginning of the year.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Scammers are experts at shifting tactics and changing messages to catch people off guard – and if there’s one thing they love, it’s a crisis.

During times of hardship, like the current pandemic, people feel anxious and stressed. They want a quick fix or an easy way out. And that’s exactly what scammers offer.

Until the COVID-19 infections come to an end, the scams won’t stop.

Here’s a quick look at some known virus-related scams and what you can do to protect yourself.

Medicare Scams

According to the FTC, scammers have been calling people offering things like a “COVID-19 kit,” Coronavirus package,” or Medicare benefits related to the virus. When you express interest, the scammers will ask you to verify personal information like your Medicare ID, Social Security number, or bank account information. If you get a call from someone that says they are from Medicare, hang up. A real Medicare representative would never call and ask you to verify personal information over the phone.

Stimulus Check Scams

Many Americans received a stimulus payment via direct deposit in recent weeks, and many others are still waiting for their physical check to arrive in the mail. The FTC is reporting an upswing in fraudulent calls, texts, and emails purporting to come from the Social Security Administration, IRS, USCIS, or FDIC. These fake government calls may promise you fast access to your stimulus money or cash relief if you give them bank account information.  Don’t fall for it!

COVID-19 Treatment Scams

We all want this pandemic to be over quickly and we’d all like a viable treatment to be available. Some scammers have created fake websites offering hard-to-find items such as hand sanitizer and face masks in the hopes that you will “buy” them. Some are also claiming to have access to experimental treatments or vaccines, but no such thing has been approved by the FDA for home use. Avoid making purchases from unfamiliar websites or, at a minimum, do some research before you shop.

Debt Reduction Scams

Scammers know that many people are struggling financially, and they hope to capitalize on their desire to be rid of debt. Bottom line: If someone calls and offers you a debt reduction technique that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Many banks, credit card companies, and other financial services are offering hardship assistance to customers who have been affected by COVID-19. These are the safer bet.

Charity Scams

Scammer may be reaching out claiming to work for charitable organizations that help people affected by COVID-19. If you’d like to donate to help those in need at this time, make sure it’s a legitimate charity with a name you recognize. If you can’t find the company listed in the IRS Tax-Exempt Organization Search Tool, that’s a big red flag.

How to Avoid COVID-19 Scams

If you want to keep yourself safe from COVID-19-related scams, follow these simple guidelines:

  • Beware of anyone who asks for personal information like Social Security or bank account numbers
  • Check any email address or links for legitimacy. You can inspect a link by hovering your curser over the URL to see where it leads
  • Watch for spelling and grammar mistakes or odd phrasing in written communications like emails and letters
  • Listen for generic greetings – scammers are less likely to use your actual name and may address you as “Sir” or “Madam”
  • Avoid any person or organization that insists that you “act now”

Sources of Information

Government offices and health care agencies are often the best sources of information regarding COVID-19. If you have questions about coronavirus, here are a few of the best places to find answers:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

National Institutes of Health

Posted in: Health

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Home Health Aides are Heroes, Too!

Monday , April 20 , 2020

Home Health Aides are Heroes, Too!

This week I’d like to shout out to our wonderful home health aides.

We understandably think first of the heroic doctors, RNs, and emergency responders when we think of those making a difference during the pandemic. But now that New Jersey residents are under stay-at-home orders, our staff of professional caregivers and home care nurses are also among the most essential workers.

They are keeping seniors safe and in their homes, helping them monitor their blood pressure and sugar levels, reminding them to stay hydrated, caring for their comfort and hygiene, and reporting any health changes to our nursing staff.

Over the past six weeks that we have been dealing with COVID-19 in NJ, not one of our dozens of homebound clients has had an unexpected hospitalization.

Keeping seniors out of the hospital not only reduces their exposure to coronavirus and other infectious diseases, but it also frees up hospital resources to deal with the current crisis.

ComForCare Response to COVID-19

Since early March, we have taken many steps to reduce the risk of infection to our clients and home health aides. We’ve paid particular attention to our clients who are vulnerable due to chronic pulmonary or heart conditions.

Our nurses, especially, have been working overtime to protect our patients and staff:

  • We have delivered hundreds of masks and bottles of hand sanitizers to our home health aides.
  • Nurse Naomi created a YouTube video on the proper way to handle and store masks.
  • Nurse Kim created a Google questionnaire that is being texted every morning to every caregiver to ensure that any symptoms or possible exposure are flagged. Anyone who might have been exposed is pulled from work until the proper quarantine period is passed, whether or not they ever develop any symptoms.
  • The RNs are checking the responses to these questionnaires daily and making any needed follow-up calls promptly.
  • We’ve asked our live-in caregivers to give up their scheduled and well-deserved time off. We don’t want to risk introducing additional people to the homes of their clients.
  • Caregivers are forgoing the pleasure of ordering food deliveries because we can’t be sure about the safety of the delivery vehicles.
  • We are now performing our 60-day RN reassessments over the phone, using video as needed, rather than coming to the home.

 

Client Health and Safety

During this time, we are asking our clients and their families to immediately report any symptoms or possible exposure to an infected person. Please have a thermometer in your home and check your temperature daily. Any temperature of over 100.4° should be reported immediately to ComForCare and your doctor. Please also be sure to report any new symptoms of coughing or shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, or diarrhea.

It’s best to limit the number of people coming to your home. Be sure, too, that any visitors wear masks, take their shoes off at the door, and wash their hands with soap and water for a full 20 seconds upon entering the home. If they forget, remind them. It’s for everyone’s safety.

Final Thoughts

We don’t know how long the pandemic will be with us, but we are settling in for the long haul.

Please call us anytime with questions, concerns, or for more information. Our RNs and I are happy to talk to you at any time. If we don’t know the answer to your question, we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

For those of you caring for a loved one with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association of America has a helpline to answer specific questions about dementia caregiving. It is open 365 days a year, and the number is 866-232-8484.

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Senior Citizens Face Isolation and Loneliness During Quarantine

Monday , April 13 , 2020

Senior Citizens Face Isolation and Loneliness During Quarantine

Throughout the country, people have been instructed to limit face-to-face interactions with individuals outside of their immediate household. These measures help stop the spread of novel coronavirus.

Many family members have had to end visits to parents and grandparents or have had to stop seeing older loved ones in nursing homes and assisted care facilities.

The implementation of physical distancing is essential in keeping the community healthy – especially those aged 60 and older who are more likely to get admitted to the hospital and to die from the disease.

Stephanie Cacioppo, director of the Brain Dynamics Laboratory at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, told ABC News, “The frail elderly are particularly at risk because of limited (or impaired) physical mobility, less autonomy, increased vulnerability to infections and immunological depletion, cognitive decline, chronic health conditions, lower injury thresholds and higher recovery times.”

Unfortunately, the efforts come at a hidden cost: Physical distancing may be causing social isolation and loneliness in many of the nation’s older adults.

Social Isolation and Loneliness 

Social isolation (the state of complete or near-complete lack of contact between an individual and society) and loneliness (a sense of suffering from being disconnected from other people) are not the same thing.

For many people, however, especially older adults, social isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness.

Those aged 60 plus often live alone, and when faced with a situation where they’re not supposed to leave the house, they are less likely than younger adults to maintain connections with other people.

While isolation and loneliness can have negative effects on people of all ages, it is especially damaging for seniors. Persistent feelings of loneliness have been linked to higher risk of certain mental and physical health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart disease – and even death.

Chronic isolation and loneliness may also manifest as changes in routine and self-care, where older adults suddenly stop bathing or eating meals on a regular schedule.

Helping Older Adults Combat Loneliness 

Experts say there are ways to help older loved ones combat the sense of loneliness, even when you can’t be there with them. Here are some ideas, from WebMD:

Send a Care Package

Due to physical limitations or lack of transportation, it may be harder for older loved ones to get to the store. And even if they can venture out on their own, they shouldn’t.

To help your older loved one stay safely in place, consider putting together a package of things you know they’ll need, such as non-perishable foods, over-the-counter medicines, and supplies such as tissues and toilet paper.

Drop off these items at your loved one’s front door or order them and have them delivered.

Schedule a Weekly Video Call

Schedule a time each week to call and check in with each other. For older adults that aren’t comfortable with technology, a regular old phone call will do – but research finds that interacting through technology improves feelings of loneliness and depression in older adults. Now may be the time to teach grandma how to use Zoom or WhatsApp (from a safe distance, of course)!

Watch a Movie Together

You may not be able to get together in person, but technology today makes it easy to have a virtual movie night. Streaming services like Netflix Party and Metastream will let you chat with each other while you watch your favorite films or television shows. Now someone just has to come up with a way to virtually share popcorn…

Host a Book Club

If your older loved one isn’t keen on the idea of technology, maybe they’d prefer a virtual book club.  Now is the ideal time to catch up on that pile of books you’ve had in your “read next” pile for the last several years!

Have one person choose a book for everyone in the family to read each week and at the end of the week, have a group phone call to discuss. If your senior parent or grandparent doesn’t own the required novel, you can easily ship it to them via Amazon or send it to them digitally via Amazon Kindle or another reading app of their choice. 

Write Letters

Letter writing is a neglected art these days – and perhaps one that your older loved ones miss. Take this opportunity to tell your friends and family what they mean to you on paper. It is likely something they will cherish for years to come, even after quarantine is over.

Try AARP Community Connections

AARP’s new online platform, Community Connections, helps users find and organize local volunteer groups to provide financial, emotional and other support to those most affected by the coronavirus outbreak. If you’re unable to communicate with your older loved ones as often as you’d like, this service may be able to connect them with others who can provide the necessary assistance.

Final Thoughts

Quarantine can be frightening, disheartening, and lonely – but it also presents a great opportunity to find new ways to create connection. Use this time to grow more united and build stronger relationships between parents, grandparents, kids, and other friends and family. Right now, it’s more important than ever before to connect and unite!

Posted in: Aging

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