Alzheimer’s Networking for Caregivers

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementia type illness is extremely demanding on the caregivers. We are always concerned about the stress on the caregivers and want to make sure they do not burn out or become ill themselves as they provide the care to their loved one.

Support groups for caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients offer help to those caregivers who otherwise feel so isolated.  However, often the caregivers are unable to attend the group meetings as a result of not having any other respite caregivers available.  If you find yourself in this situation, consider the use of social media outlets to provide needed support.

The Alzheimer’s association has developed its own social media site called ALZconnected.  This site allows caregivers who are otherwise unable to attend group meetings to connect with other caregivers who know exactly what they are facing.  You may also post questions as well as helpful tips on the site which may be useful to other caregivers, on their solutions page.  For anyone facing the care of an Alzheimer’s patient this site provides good information, contact with others and an opportunity to know that they are not alone.  Message boards focusing on various topics are included on the site, with specific boards for caregivers, family members and even for the patient themselves.

Given the isolation of caring for an Alzheimer’s or dementia patient, it is comforting that there are resources that can be accessed without leaving your home.  Consider the use of social media to help the caregiver feel supported while they attend to the very difficult job of caring for their loved one.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

10 Tips to Avoid International Scams

Mass marketing fraud is a significant source of income for international crime rings. Con artists ignore geographic boundaries to reach out to potential victims by phone, email, postal mail, and through the Internet, and then trick them into sending money or giving out personal information. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, Americans report losses of more than a billion dollars a year to these frauds.

These con artists are successful because they can be clever, but knowledgeable consumers can avoid these scams.

Here are 10 things you can do to stop a scam:

  1. Keep in mind that wiring money is like sending cash: the sender has no protections against loss. Con artists often insist that people wire money, especially overseas, because it’s nearly impossible to reverse the transaction or trace the money. Don’t wire money to strangers, to sellers who insist on wire transfers for payment, or to someone who claims to be a relative in an emergency (and wants to keep the request a secret).
  2. Don’t send money to someone you don’t know. That includes an online merchant you’ve never heard of — or an online love interest who asks for money or favors. It’s best to do business with sites you know and trust. If you buy items through an online auction, consider a payment option that provides protection, like a credit card. Don’t send cash or use a wire transfer service.
  3. Don’t respond to messages that ask for your personal or financial information, whether the message comes as an email, a phone call, a text message, or an advertisement. Don’t click on links in the message, or call phone numbers that are left on your answering machine, either. The crooks behind these messages are trying to trick you into giving up your personal information. If you get a message and are concerned about your account status, call the number on your credit or debit card — or your statement — and check it out.
  4. Don’t play a foreign lottery. First, it’s illegal to play foreign lotteries. Second, it’s easy to be tempted by messages that boast enticing odds in a foreign lottery, or messages that claim you’ve already won. Inevitably, you’ll be asked to pay “taxes,” “fees,” or “customs duties” to collect your prize. If you send money, you won’t get it back, regardless of the promises.
  5.  Don’t agree to deposit a check from someone you don’t know and then wire money back, no matter how convincing the story. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. You are responsible for the checks you deposit: When a check turns out to be a fake, it’s you who is responsible for paying back the bank.
  6. Read your bills and monthly statements regularly—on paper and online. Scammers steal account information and then run up charges or commit crimes in your name. Dishonest merchants sometimes bill you for monthly “membership fees” and other goods or services you didn’t authorize. If you see charges you don’t recognize or didn’t okay, contact your bank, card issuer, or other creditor immediately.
  7. In the wake of a natural disaster or another crisis, give to established charities rather than one that seems to have sprung up overnight. Pop-up charities probably don’t have the infrastructure to get help to the affected areas or people, and they could be collecting the money to finance illegal activity.
  8. Talk to your doctor before buying health products or signing up for medical treatments. Ask about research that supports a product’s claims—and possible risks or side effects. Buy prescription drugs only from licensed U.S. pharmacies. Otherwise, you could end up with products that are fake, expired or mislabeled — in short, products that could be dangerous.
  9. Remember there’s no such thing as a sure thing. If someone contacts you promoting low-risk, high-return investment opportunities, stay away. When you hear pitches that insist you act now, guarantees of big profits, promises of little or no financial risk, or demands that you send cash immediately, report them to the FTC. For more information about investment fraud, click here.
  10. Know where an offer comes from and who you’re dealing with.Try to find a seller’s physical address (not just a P.O. Box) and phone number. With VoIP and other web-based technologies, it’s tough to tell where someone is calling from. Do an internet search for the company name and website and look for negative reviews. Check them out with the Better Business Bureau.One bonus tip: Visit to learn how to avoid internet fraud, secure your computer and protect your personal information.

For More Information

Visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website. The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them.



* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

It’s Possible to Discharge a Student Loan Because of Disability

As of 2011, the average college student (graduate and undergraduate) left school with $23,300 in debt. Repayment of student loans has always been difficult, but with the economy still working its way back, many recent graduates have no jobs and no way to pay back their loans. People with disabilities that prevent them from working face an even more desperate set of challenges.

Fortunately, people with disabilities can apply for disability discharges of loans from the following programs: Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL), Perkins Loans, William D. Ford Federal Direct Loans (Direct Loans), and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants.

To qualify for a disability discharge, a borrower must show that she has a physical or mental impairment that will either result in death or has lasted or will be expected to last more than 60 months. (Different, less stringent rules apply to veterans with disabilities.) The borrower’s doctor must submit paperwork to the U.S. Department of Education certifying the borrower’s condition, and, if approved, the loan will be conditionally discharged.

Once a loan is conditionally discharged, the borrower must not engage in employment that results in income exceeding the federal poverty rate for a family of two for the next three years. Once the three-year period has passed, the loan will be completely discharged.

No one wants to default on his obligations, but if a borrower cannot repay a loan due to disability, he should promptly apply for a disability discharge so that the funds he would normally spend on loan repayment can be directed towards future care.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.

Social Security to Add Adult Huntington’s Disease to Compassionate Allowances Program

Compassionate Allowances are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that invariably qualify under the statutory standard for disability. The Compassionate Allowances program fast-tracks disability decisions to ensure that Americans with the most serious disabilities receive their benefit decisions within days instead of months or years.

The Social Security Administration will add symptomatic Huntington’s Disease to its Compassionate Allowances program for adults by the end of the year. The expedited disability process will identify people with significant symptoms of this devastating neurological disease. Adult Huntington’s Disease will accompany the designation of Juvenile Huntington’s Disease as a Compassionate Allowance condition, which will be effective next month.

* The information contained in this Blog is intended for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion of counsel.