Our Top 10 Scariest Articles of 2016 (If You Dare)

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With Halloween upon us, now is the time when we present you with this year’s scariest stories. From one typo costing you your computer to loved ones with Alzheimer’s owning guns, we uncovered some scary ground. To celebrate Halloween, we’ve ranked our scariest articles from least to most scary (but you be the judge) for you to revisit, if you are brave enough to do so. As always, thank you for reading our newsletter and blog!

Note to our readers: if you’re someone who hates thinking about horrific topics, such as spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on long-term care, then you might want to stop reading or proceed with caution. But if you’re curious, please read on. . .

10. Veterans May Have a Higher Risk of Getting Alzheimer’s: Alzheimer’s researchers have become concerned that brain injuries, possibly even mild to moderate concussions, can cause brain inflammation that then triggers the development of Alzheimer’s in those who may already be at increased risk of the disease. It has also been found that Veterans who have experienced PTSD are twice as likely as those without PTSD to develop dementia.

9. Massive Amount of Romance Scams Target Older Victims: Millions of Americans visit online dating websites every year hoping to find a companion or even a soulmate. The FBI is warning seniors and others that criminals are using dating sites, such as Match.com, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, and even social media sites such as Facebook, as well as direct email, to turn the lonely and vulnerable into fast money through a variety of scams. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) reported aggregate losses to their victims at $204 million for 2015 alone. According to the IC3, romance scams were the largest personal fraud crime based on losses reported last year.

8. One Typo Could Cost You Your Computer: AARP reported that cybercrooks are using .om websites to spread computer malware, remotely access PCs and Macs, and to steal log-in credentials. Malicious criminals for years have been buying domain names with a missing or misplaced letter in website addresses belonging to well-known companies, and they simply wait for you to make a typo. Most of the .om-ending sites operate the same way: They don’t directly install malware but, instead, lead to other infected pages. Actors behind this “typosquatting” attack have been quite successful, as there are at least thousands of queries per day to the malicious .om domains from different computers across the world.

7. Huge Rate Hike for Federal Government Long-Term Care Insurance Policies: According to the Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program (FLTCIP) Website, a new contract was recently awarded to John Hancock Life and Health Insurance Co., that will result in larger out-of-pocket costs for Federal Long-Term Care Insurance Program enrollees in the fall of 2016. The new, seven-year contract retains John Hancock, which last received the contract in 2009. Since the last contract, insurance rates increased annually for enrollees who opt not to pay higher costs up front, at a 4% to 5% annual inflationary increase. In 2009, FLTCIP enrollees saw their premiums jump by as much as 25%. Now, premiums are increasing by a whopping 225%! This is a previously unheard of increase for the FLTCIP program.

6. Do Not Resuscitate Orders Being Placed Without Patient Consent?: In England, hospitals are failing to tell relatives that they do not intend to attempt potentially lifesaving techniques to save their loved ones, according to the Royal College of Physicians. An audit of 9,000 dying patients found that one in five families were not informed of the plans – equivalent to 40,000 patients a year. In 16% of cases, the study found there was no record of a conversation with the patient about the order, and no planning documents were located. No matter where you live, ensuring that your wishes are met in these instances are more reason to have Advance Directives in place!

5. Caution: The Hidden Dangers of Heartburn Medicine: Currently, an estimated one in 14 Americans are dependent on an over-the-counter PPI to treat GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). Considered the most effective treatment for GERD, PPIs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use. The problem is that studies have linked long-term use of PPIs to an increased risk of dementia, cardiovascular disease, and renal failure, but until this year, scientists haven’t known exactly why. Results published in the journal Circulation Research earlier this year found that vascular cells chronically exposed to PPIs accelerate blood vessel aging— an effect that can have an adverse impact on cardiovascular health. This type of damage is synonymous with age-related chronic conditions and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

4. A Parent has Alzheimer’s and a Gun. What Do You Do?: Currently, around 40% of the country’s older population has a firearm in the home, according to the Pew Research Center, and about 11% of people 65 and older have Alzheimer’s. People with Alzheimer’s can become aggressive and hallucinate, sometimes lose peripheral vision, fail to recognize loved ones, and forget the purpose of an object. Therefore, a person who has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia with a gun can make for dangerous, and sometimes deadly, consequences. Unfortunately, in most cases, families are not removing guns after a diagnosis. In one assessment, which examined 106 patients at a South Carolina clinic, 60% of them still had a firearm at home. In another, involving 495 people at a Cleveland clinic, 18% did. The Alzheimer’s Association offers guidance on how to minimize risks associated with firearms in homes where a loved one has dementia.

3. Must Read: Fluoride May Be Toxic for Seniors: Many of us experience loss of bone mass and density as we age. Of course, we want to do what we can to make our bones stronger, not weaker. However, if you are ingesting fluoridated water or anything with fluoride in it, you could be doing more damage to your bones than you know. According to a National Institute of Health (NIH) study, fluoride exposure alters the quality of bone tissue, and may increase the rate of bone fracture. According to the World Health Organization, excess fluoride intake causes a condition known as skeletal fluorosis, which has symptoms that are difficult to distinguish from arthritis in its early stages. In advanced skeletal fluorosis (also called crippling skeletal fluorosis), your extremities become weak and moving your joints becomes difficult, and your vertebrae partially fuse together, effectively crippling you.

2. $10,000 – $12,000? That’s for a Year, Right?: The cost of a nursing home in the metro DC area is $10,000- $12,000 A MONTH, an amount that is catastrophic for most of us. Each few years, Genworth conducts surveys of long-term care across the U.S. and summarizes the data in a Cost of Care Study, in an effort to help Americans plan for the potential cost based on their preferred location and setting. The 2016 survey is now out, and provides state-specific cost of care data for all 50 states and comparison to the national median. Unfortunately, according to the study’s findings, the cost of receiving care continues to rise sharply year over year, especially for services in the home, where most Americans prefer to receive long-term care.

1. If You Don’t Visit Your Parents, It Could Affect Your Credit Score: When you go to buy a car or refinance your mortgage, you of course try to take advantage of the best interest rate available. What if the sales person tells you that they are sorry, but your credit score is too low to do so? You are shocked because you pay all of your bills on time. Then, you find out that because you didn’t visit your mom and dad enough, your credit score was lowered. Sounds crazy, right? Well, as of May 1, 2016, this has become a reality for those living in Shanghai, China. That’s right! Under new rules, all citizens of working age who live apart from their mother and father must “visit or send greeting often,” or they will face a harsh penalty — the authorities could intervene to lower the neglectful children’s personal credit scores. There is probably little risk that any similar law would be enacted in the U.S. However, 29 states, including Virginia and Maryland, have filial responsibility laws making children financially responsible for the care of their indigent parents.

If you are now officially freaked out, and if you or a loved one has not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning, or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), please call us to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation:

Fairfax Elder Law: 703-691-1888
Fredericksburg Elder Law: 540-479-1435
Rockville Elder Law: 301-519-8041
DC Elder Law: 202-587-2797

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