Reuters Money

Identity theft among family members affects millions

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Two million to three million elderly parents had their identities stolen between 2006 and 2010 by a younger family member for fraudulent reasons including opening lines of credit, according to a new study.

The report by ID Analytics is different from typical surveys on the subject, which only capture what people say. This time, company CTO Stephen Coggeshall says, the figures are based on analyses of 1 billion applications for credit cards and cell phones that showed just how many times younger family members apparently fraudulently used their elder parents’ credit.

“We are literally looking at the entire set of credit-active people in the United States. Even surveys wouldn’t uncover this, because a lot of victims don’t know they’re victims,” he says.  “The realities of familial identity theft are far worse than anything you see in a soap opera. It is the ultimate in family betrayal.”

Identity theft expert Linda Foley, who runs the consultancy ID Theft Info Source says the sad truth is family members steal each others’ identities because they can. “If you want to steal a Social Security number, it’s far easier to steal the information of someone close to you because you have easy access.” And she adds that this is a  grossly under-reported crime because  it’s particularly difficult for the victims to turn in their own children. ”The egregiousness of this crime is the parents don’t feel the need to protect themselves from their own children,” she says.

What next for long-term care after CLASS act folds?

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Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services REUTERS/Joshua RobertsThe federal government threw in the towel on creating a public option for long-term care coverage last week, and that would seem to be definitive for now.

In defeat, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was doing the right thing in admitting the concept’s flaws and cutting the government’s losses of the proposal, which was a lesser-known component of the new health reform law. It was an attempt to expand the number of Americans with long-term care coverage by providing a basic, inexpensive LTC option deployed mainly through the workplace as an opt-out choice in benefit plans.

For-profit or not: What to consider when choosing a nursing home

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As a state-appointed consumer advocate overseeing complaints about Florida’s long-term care industry, Brian Lee became curious about corporate ownership earlier this year. He sent nearly 700 letters to every nursing home in the state requesting information about which entities owned which facilities.

It wasn’t idle curiosity.

Numerous investigative reports over the past decade have found that for-profit nursing homes tend to under-perform when compared to non-profit facilities.

Long-term care insurance gets a makeover

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Less than two decades ago, Meryl Comer and her husband Dr. Harvey Gralnick embodied the American Dream: He was a physician, while she had built a career as an Emmy-winning reporter, producer and broadcast journalist. Everything looked perfectly in place for their careers to soar, their nest egg to grow.

Then came the news any couple would dread: Gralnick was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease at 57. Soon he couldn’t recognize Meryl, and the couple went into financial free-fall as Comer took over his round-the-clock care.

I’ve fallen and I can’t Tweet: New tech solutions to elder care

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An emergency stop button in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska March 19, 2011.  REUTERS/Lucas JacksonIt’s rare to find a person over 20 in the U.S. who’s not familiar with the expression “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

The phrase is used in an ongoing, decades-old advertisement from Life Alert Emergency Response, a company founded in 1987 that hasn’t really altered its phone-based, 24-hour emergency help for older folks. The service is still accessible via a button on a lanyard worn around the neck or on a wristband.

Long-term care funding wrapped up in deficit debate

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The following is a guest post by Brad Allen. The opinions expressed are his own.

The debate over funding long-term care has gotten renewed energy – but no greater clarity – from the current deficit reduction discussions roiling Washington.

Seventy percent of Americans over the age of 65 will need some level of long-term care in their lifetime with 20 percent requiring two to five years of care, according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Annual costs can vary widely, but the national average in 2008 ranged between $18,000 for part-time in-home health aides to $68,000 for a semi-private room in a nursing home.

As cost of care rises, families bear the burden

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Months after Terri Corcoran married in 2000, her new husband began to show signs of fatigue and memory loss.

By 2004, Corcoran’s husband, a former laser scientist in his early 70s, had been diagnosed with a rare genetic brain disorder. This once-independent person could not speak and needed help eating and using the bathroom.

Alzheimer’s: Early planning critical to financial health

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Jean Dorrell knew something was wrong when the birthday card her father usually sends two weeks ahead of schedule didn’t arrive in the mail.

“This past year he forgot my birthday and he forgot my brothers’ birthdays, so we realized he was slipping pretty fast,” says Dorrell, a certified financial planner and founder of Senior Financial Security in Summerfield, Florida.

Golden Girls 2.0: Shared housing as a retirement strategy

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Those Golden Girls may have been on to something. Alternative living arrangements — like the group house featured in the popular 80′s sitcom — are gaining steam among retired women, affording them a higher standard of living, in-home support services and companionship while aging in place.

Want to employ that personal chef you’ve always dreamed about? What about a pool and a view of the 18th hole? With women living at least five years longer than men on average, home sharing — which is dominated by women — helps them maintain or even elevate the quality of life in retirement.

Eldercare: How to hire your kids to take care of you

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Long before the phrase “sandwich generation” took hold, seniors in declining health turned to children or other relatives for essential tasks such as cleaning, grocery shopping, doing laundry or driving to doctors’ appointments. Now, a growing number of families put a price on such devotion though caregiver contracts.

As the name implies, caregiver contracts outline in detail paid arrangements between a parent and child, relative or anyone else in the caregiving loop. Among other things, a formal agreement sets forth the length of time and rate of pay for caregiving services, and the tasks to be performed.