Category Archives: Elderly Emotions

Guest Article: Addiction and the Elderly

Written by Anne Garrow

When we think of addiction our thoughts typically turn to the younger generation; those who are inexperienced, easily led and looking for a good time. We don’t tend to think of Grandma or Grandpa, who are by default older and wiser, falling prey to the devastating financial, emotional and physical consequences of becoming addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling or internet use.

But research shows that age means little when it comes to developing an addiction and that addiction in the elderly is becoming so prevalent that experts are now labelling it ‘the invisible epidemic’. If you are a senior citizen who feels that they may be developing a dependency on a certain substance or habit then this article might help you to recognise this and seek the appropriate help.

Drinking and drugs

Studies indicate that there are a reported 2.5 million ‘older adults’ with drink and drug related problems in the US and almost 50% of nursing home residents have some sort of alcohol dependency. Alcohol is an extremely addictive substance and some experts believe that what starts out as an innocent drink to dispel feelings of boredom or isolation can develop into something more sinister over time. The same applies to prescription medicine. Unsurprisingly, senior citizens are the leading age group when it comes to taking long term medication and certain substances such as painkillers or anti-anxiety medication can become extremely addictive over time.

The danger is that elderly people tend to be far less tolerant of the effects of alcohol and drugs than the younger generation. They may become drunker quicker, putting themselves at risk of accident or injury. In later life the brain cells that can be destroyed by heavy drinking (causing unpleasant hangover headaches) no longer regenerate so this can lead to cognitive issues too, not to mention the physical effects on the liver and stomach.

Gambling

Games such as bingo or black jack are not uncommon pastimes in senior citizens but studies warn that serious gambling is becoming a destructive hobby for many elderly people. One report goes as far as to suggest that casinos are deliberately preying on the elderly by offering free lunch coupons, drug discounts and easy accessibility to the elderly. All of which is thought to contribute to the shocking statistics that reveal senior citizens are the fastest population of gamblers with 70% of them gambling in the past year alone.

Any person of any age can get addicted to the thrill of gambling. Studies suggest that winning produces a similar brain reaction to that of taking cocaine – the ultimate high. But when they are losing, addicts feel desperate to recoup their losses and the nature of this vicious cycle has seen senior citizens gambling away their food money, estates and inheritance for their families. The study also examines the link between dementia – a degenerative condition fairly common the elderly and known to affect inhibitions and judgement calls – to the rise in gambling in the older generation.

Internet addiction

The internet can be a useful tool for elderly people who sometimes, due to health issues, are unable to get out and about as much as they’d like. The internet gives them the opportunity to have face to face conversations with family and friends, do their shopping or otherwise entertain themselves without even leaving the house. But over time this useful aid can manifest into dependency and other worrying activities such as disengagement from ‘real life’, compulsive spending and online gambling. There have also been a lot of high profile cases of older people being duped by ‘love interests’ they meet online, not to mention them being more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety which are generally linked to social withdrawal.

Seeking help

Many addicts struggle to admit that they have a problem and even when they do, asking for help can be a daunting prospect. For elderly people who may think that they ‘should have known better’ it can be even more difficult. But seeking help is the only way to improve the damaging situations that addiction can land you in. Speak to trusted friends, family members or your doctor who may be able to refer you to a therapist specialising in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which aims to alter the distorted thought processes that leads to the addictive behaviour. Some elderly people who get pleasure from gambling, online activity or substance abuse might have a ‘lifes too short’ attitude but being an addict is no way to live your life at any age. Seek help and enjoy a healhier and happier life.

Resources

Recovery.org, Seniors and substance abuse: the invisible epidemic, accessed 19.08.16

NCADD, Alcohol, drug dependency and seniors, accessed 19.08.16

AC Psych, Alcohol and older people, accessed 19.08.16

Salon, How the gambling industry preys on senior citizens, accessed 19.08.16

Social Work Today, High risk recreation: gambling problems in older adults, accessed 19.08.16

Journal of addiction research and therapy, Problematic internet use in older adults, accessed 19.08.16

American addiction centers, CBT and addiction treatment, accessed 19.08.16

Scams

shutterstock_29038231Seniors are a target demographic for scammers looking to pad their pocketbooks with your hard earned retirement with promises of immense wealth and human aid.  Sometimes these scammers are asking for assistance, offering you inheritance or just want you to open a link so they can implant a virus in your computer in order to try and capture your financial information without your knowledge.

Legitimate Emails

Legitimate emails are from people or companies you actually signed up for. With emails from companies, there is an option, usually at the bottom of the email body, which allows you to unsubscribe.  You may or may not have signed up for these emails, they give you the opt-out options so you may be taken off the list.  A legitimate company wants you to be interested what they send and if you’re not, they are fine with removing you off their list.  Those companies spend time and a lot of money to send these out and if you’re not buying or interested, they would rather not waste your time.

Spam Emails

Defined as: irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients. Spam emails are often scams or solicitations and can be very annoying.

Things to look for in spam emails:

  • Links (don’t click on these links unless you requested information from the sender)
  • Requesting Log In (verify that the company is requesting this information easily by seeing if your personal information is on the email such as your name ie an email from eBay or Paypal will be labelled Dear Your Name)
  • Incorrect sender email address (if the name is correct but the domain name of the receipt is wrong, it’s a scam ie an email from Paypal Customer Service will be from @paypal.com)
  • Incorrect grammar or spelling

Spam Tactics:

  • Fear (they use fear to get you to click a link)
  • Inheritance (if you don’t know your rich Great Uncle Pete, he probably doesn’t exist and if he did why would his lawyer contact you via email)
  • Reputation (as you’ll see below in example 1, they use fear about your reputation to get you to click a link)
  • New exciting product (new things can be fabulous, but not necessary)
  • Ticket or Court (threatening with legal action can be scary however it’s fake, a court or city will never email you about getting a ticket)
  • Health Care or Insurance (often scammers will try to scare information from you by using fear of cancelling your insurance or changing your coverage)

Viruses

Running a regular virus scan will be helpful.  Every website you go to gathers certain information from your computer, which might be as simple as location information or what you browse.  Some sites may leave information on your computer which can be very damaging.  Some highly recommended scans you should run: CCleaner, Malwarebytes’ and Super Anti-Spyware. These programs are free, as long as you choose the free option, you can purchase the upgraded versions but the free version is sufficient enough to do the job. Run these weekly if you use your computer often or monthly if you use it only occasionally. Mind you these scans may find more than just Viruses, like cookies (a packet of data sent by an Internet server to a browser, which is returned by the browser each time it subsequently accesses the same server, used to identify the user or track their access to the server), these may or may not be dangerous. So don’t be alarmed if when you scan the number of threats detected are high, this may be normal based on what you do while you are browsing.

Another way to protect yourself, turn off your computer while not in use and unplug the internet connection while not in use.  This limits what can be done to your computer while you’re not using it.

Having more than one email can be helpful. One email I use for communication with people I know and check often, the other email is used to receive communication from companies that I have to sign up for or purchase something from.  This keeps my email that I check often fairly spam free and the other email can be bombarded with spam.

Sending Information

Sometimes it happens that you have to send over information. I dread doing this but it’s necessary in some cases.  You can try to avoid it by calling the companies or individuals and giving the information over the phone.  Information given via email can be intercepted.

What information is safe to give someone online:

  • Name
  • Birth Month
  • Things You Are Interested In
  • General Area you live or visit

What information you shouldn’t give to someone online:

  • Full Birthday (of you or anyone you care about)
  • Address (of you or anyone you care about)
  • Phone Number (of anyone you care about)
  • Mother’s Maiden Name
  • Children or Grandchildren’s Names
  • Social Security Number
  • ANY FINANCIAL INFORMATION

Do not send anyone any money and verify all requests for money even from family.

True Example:

Dan (false name) is one of our office staff, his grandmother received a phone call from a person who stated they were Dan traveling Europe and needed a thousand dollars. Dan’s grandmother was smart and told the person to call back in a few minutes.  During this time Dan’s grandmother called Dan’s cell phone and verified the person who called was not Dan.  The person never called back.  With an extra step Dan’s grandmother’s money is safe in her bank account.

Checks and Money Orders

It is common to receive a check or money order as a scam and the person who sent the check or money requests a refund of a certain amount of money and the remainder is yours to keep for doing leg work.  Sounds great if the original check or money order was valid.  Usually there is a sense of urgency to wire the funds over because it might take 5-60 days to realize the check or money order was fake or fraudulent.

Scam Email Examples

These were received at our office, please do not click on any of the links, these are used just as an example.

EXAMPLE 1:

Based on our preliminary findings your online reputation could be under scrutiny.

Did you know this is being posted about you online?

———————————————–

File Lookup: 8759372

Analysis ||

http://www.magwok.com/signification/salacity/gloriam/W5Vm4BJn5LxUl6TvtRLO6dP

I1drE8sMEpMAzGFebxf4=/overhearing.html

When negative things are being published about your reputation, it impacts everything you value.

As you can see they use scare tactics to get you to click a link.

 

EXAMPLE 2:

 Hello,

Wayne Walter & Associate Chambers is conducting a standard process investigation on behalf of Allianz UK, and we  would like you to assist with this independent inquiry.

My name is Wayne Walter. I am a Private Investigator and also a reunion counselor/analyst. This investigation and inquiry involves my client, who shares the same last name with you and also the circumstances surrounding the investments/ life insurance policy he  made with Allianz UK prior to his untimely death.

My client and his wife and only daughter daugther died in an auto accident and no successor in title over the investments made here in London. The essence of this communication with you is to present you as the heir/next of kin to the deceased so that the isured amount GBP 7,500,000 {Seven Million Five Hundred Thousand Great Britain Pounds} with Allianz UK can be paid to you as the you as the successor hence I cannot find any of the relatives of the deceased.

Allianz UK has given me an ultimatum as his lawyer to present the next of kin within 14 days otherwise his assets will be moved to the government treasury. I want us to utilize this opportunity hence I have tried to locate any of the relatives but to no avail. I will provide all relevant legal documents to facilitate the transfer of the money to you and all I need is your full cooperation. If you are interested in this business, please let me know immediately so that I can give you more information as to how this business will be completed.  Kindly send the following information if you are interested in this transaction:

1.       Your full name

2.       Contact address

3.       Contact telephone and mobile numbers

4.       Age and occupation.

I look forward to your reply.

Wayne Walter.

Principal Partner, Wayne Walter & Associate Chambers.

Tel. +44 702 404 6984

As you can see they are requesting information, the sender is foreign, grammar is bad.

 

EXAMPLE 3:

 

Dutch Glow – Amish Wood Milk…100 Year Old Formula

— Research Promo Center 700 N Valley St Suite B Anaheim CA 92801 — Unsubscribe by going to the following web address: http://surveys-digital.net/d056MuDxeYpOdu7ZO+anEy9nSwICMyWKlp25D+RfsqMw/1LoI15ii7yQZEOMR2PV9KhfETj5wpCxdfOA/hAqpfQh3GLt+WPLYH+D3qhIzB90Q8Hrv5Vi5e3tZ2BAMpOw/8wLBUCu4nM6eQ==

“It’s time you saw where you stand, Joe Lanier. Look at this girl. Iangry apologies he was backing out of the door. But Joe caught his arm.rejoined, “What a damned shame it you were his wife.”don’t, I’ll go right out of my mind!” But what? She stared about her,from now? How much shall I mean to my husband–and to other men andShe stopped for a moment by the table, with the letter in her hand, andhim down.”draw it on a large scale, and he set out to do so. But his hand washostess.how blind and ignorant she was–to make her see the difference.impassioned and intense and bold in his conceptions. There was a”I haven’t been feeling very strong, Joe,” she said in an unnatural”Why is it?” she demanded.free. I even tried to earn my living. I worked for a while. But thealways they stayed until Joe came home; and in his manner, with dismay,”Where are we going this evening?” http://surveys-digital.net/d056MuDxeYpOdu7ZO+anEy9nSwICMyWKlp25D+RfsqMw/1LoI15ii7yQZEOMR2PV9KhfETj5wpCxdfOA/hAqpfQh3GLt+WPLYH+D3qhIzB90Q8Hrv5Vi5e3tZ2BAMpOw/8wLBUCu4nM6eQ==

As you can see grammar is terrible, the bottom information doesn’t match the top, they are part of the same email but are about two completely different things.

 

Let’s plan to keep your retirement, savings and what not where they should stay, in your accounts and not in those who didn’t work as hard as you did to make that money!

 

Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors

http://www.ncoa.org/enhance-economic-security/economic-security-Initiative/savvy-saving-seniors/top-10-scams-targeting.html

Fraud: 6 scams aimed at the elderly

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/retirement/fraud-5-scams-aimed-at-the-elderly-1.aspx

Fraud Target: Senior Citizens

http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud/seniors

Written by Valerie Michel Buck

%d bloggers like this: