Don't Fall for These Bogus Funeral Notices

Scammers have hit on a new trick to try to get victims to click on links that eventually lead to viruses and other malware being downloaded onto your computer.

They send out an email that seems to come from a local funeral home inviting you to attend a celebration of a friend’s life. The note usually doesn’t say who the friend supposedly is but suggests you can get more details by clicking on an attachment or a link inside the email.

If you click, the attachment will likely install the malware straight onto your PC. If it’s a link, you may get taken to what appears to be a funeral home page but where, again, you’ll become a target for a computer virus.

If you receive a message like this, don’t click attachments or links. Look the funeral home up in the phone book and contact them to check the authenticity of the message.

Another warning: Thieves have been known to check newspaper funeral notices for details of memorial or other services – then they burglarize the homes of the deceased’s family during the event. If you’re attending a publicised funeral or service, ask a neighbor to keep watch on your home.

When Parents Need Long Term Care

Longer lives are great news for many, but, increasingly, they lead to a need for special care. For the fortunate, this may just mean moving into retirement accommodation and letting someone else do all the worrying about the driving, cooking and laundry. It’s a choice.

But for others who are unable to carry out what are known as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), like bathing, dressing, feeding and personal hygiene, there’s no choice. Professional care is needed, either in the home or in assisted living establishments.

The huge costs involved for this support, known as Long Term Care, LTC, (though it can also be short term or temporary) led to the development of long term insurance, since this coverage generally is not available from Medicare.

In the old days, experts were divided on whether LTC insurance was worth the money but increasing longevity now comes down firmly in favor of buying protection. As we reported in our August 2013 issue, the chance someone who buys a long term care insurance policy at age 60 will use their policy before they die is 50 percent.

Sometimes, the decision on whether to invoke the benefits of a policy fall to the children of parents who might not be able to oversee the arrangements for themselves. That’s when it pays to have prepared in advance for such an event and to know how best to proceed.

If you have older parents who need help with claiming on an LTC policy it’s important to familiarize yourself with the terms of their coverage. Make sure you have a copy, with relevant contact details, as well as those for their healthcare providers.

Typically, a policy will indicate what ADLs they must not be able to perform (many policies specify at least two out of six ADLs), for which you may need documentary support from their physician.

You will also need to know whether their coverage is for a maximum fixed period or if it’s open-ended. That could have implications for their finances if they need care beyond the period limits of the policy.

You’ll also need to know if the policy allows for in-home care and, if so, what type of carers are acceptable and, again, what documentary support is required.

In addition, there might be a waiting period before the benefits of the policy kick in and this could vary according to the circumstances – for example a shorter waiting period for in-home care than for an assisted living or nursing home.

If you have questions about long term care insurance, either for yourself or your parents, please contact us.

Shopping Cart Safety Warning

It seems innocent and harmless enough – giving a child a ride in a shopping cart as you walk around the grocery store. But stop! According to a recent report, more than 20,000 underfives receive ER treatment every year as a result of shopping cart injuries.

A study published by the Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that between 2008 and 2012, an estimated 107,300 children had to go to the emergency department for treatment – mostly as a result of falls from carts, 90 percent of them with head and face injuries. Other incidents involve carts tipping over or colliding, with a child inside, and kids getting their limbs or fingers stuck. A few cases actually resulted in death. In one incident, a car seat that had been mounted in a cart without being secured fell out when the cart was pushed over a speed bump. The three month old inside subsequently died.

A federal voluntary shopping cart code, introduced 10 years ago, seems to have had little effect. Although stores may issue public warning announcements and hang posters warning of the dangers, parents continue to allow their children to ride in the carts without restraints or to play around near them.

Dr. Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital says: “Not only have the overall number of child injuries associated with shopping carts not decreased since implementation of the safety standards, but the number of concussions and closed head injuries is actually increasing.” The hospital advises: 

  • Avoid seating your child in a cart, even secured, if possible. If you do seat them, use safety straps and make sure legs are placed through leg openings. 
  • Don’t use damaged carts or ones with parts missing. 
  • Use carts with child seats low to the ground if possible. 
  • Don’t place infants’ carriers on top of carts. If the child isn’t old enough to sit upright in the cart, don’t take them shopping with you, or use a stroller. 
  • Stay close to the cart at all times.

Plus, of course, follow your common sense and simply don’t allow older children to climb inside carts, to push them or try to “ride” them. And make sure they keep their fingers away from the metal grating.

Why You Should Tell Children About Smoking Risks Now

Over the past 50 years, 20 million Americans have died from smoking. And another 5.6 million, who are children today, could die prematurely of smoking-related disease unless something is done to halt the habit.

That’s the stark warning from the US Surgeon General in a new report marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of a report that declared smoking as a hazard to human health.

It’s not all bad news. Anti-smoking initiatives are estimated to have saved 8 million lives. But, with 3,200 youngsters trying their first cigarette every day, there’s no room for complacency.

“Enough is enough,” acting Surgeon General Dr Boris Lushniak told the Reuters news agency. “We need to eliminate the use of cigarettes and create a tobacco-free generation.”

A separate report produced for consumers shows that 1 in 10 children currently suffer from asthma and that smoking slows down lung growth in children and teens.

“If we could help every smoker to quit smoking and keep young people from starting in the first place, the results would be staggering,” says the report, which can be downloaded from