Fraud Hotline

Sound the Alarm: Fraud Hotline Shines Light on Scams Targeting Seniors



Our parents and grandparents worked hard their entire lives and saved for retirement. Unfortunately, there are criminals who are targeting them and who want to rob them of their hard-earned savings. Far too many older Americans are being financially exploited by strangers over the telephone and in the mail.  Worse yet, they also may be targeted by family members or by people they trust.  Many of these crimes, however, go unreported because the victim is too afraid or embarrassed to do so.

In early 2013, as Ranking Member of the Senate Aging Committee, I, along with then-Chairman Bill Nelson of Florida, made consumer protection and fraud prevention a primary focus of our Committee’s work.  From the beginning, we held hearings examining telephone scams, tax-related identity theft, Social Security fraud, and the impact of “payday loans” on seniors, among other issues.  In November of 2013, recognizing the epidemic of fraud perpetrated against seniors and the extent to which victims are often unsure of where they should turn for help, our Committee launched a toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-855-303-9470.  

Today, as Committee Chairman, I oversee the Fraud Hotline and remain committed to protecting older Americans against fraud and to bringing greater awareness to this growing problem.  The Hotline has been successful in meeting both of those goals, responding to thousands of individuals over the telephone or through the online form on the Committee Website.

The Hotline allows the Committee to keep a detailed and current record of common fraud schemes impacting seniors.  This record informs the efforts of the Committee, and ultimately the work of the U.S. Congress.

Just as important, the Hotline offers real help to victims and potential victims.  The Hotline is consistently staffed during business hours with investigators who have experience with investment scams, identity theft, bogus sweepstakes and lottery schemes, Medicare and Social Security fraud and a variety of other scams of which seniors are often the victims.  The Hotline seeks to assist individuals by providing callers with important information regarding steps that can be taken when a senior is the target of a scam, including where to report the fraud and ways to reduce the likelihood that the senior becomes a victim or repeat victim.

Seniors are typically referred by investigators to the local, state and/or federal law enforcement entities with jurisdiction over the particular scam. In addition to law enforcement, Committee staff may also direct seniors to other resources, such as consumer protection groups, legal aid clinics, Congressional caseworkers or local nonprofits that provide aid to seniors.

The range and frequency of scams reported to the Hotline demonstrate the extent of this epidemic.  The highest number of complaints this year are about criminals posing as IRS agents who falsely accuse seniors of owing back taxes and penalties. Due to this extremely high call volume, I called for an Aging Committee Hearing in April to investigate and raise awareness about these scams. Last Congress, the Committee held a hearing to investigate a Jamaican Lottery Scam as a result of increased calls to the Fraud Hotline.

Another common scam is identity theft, in which thieves access personal information through numerous means, including stealing a wallet, purse, or mail; posing as a legitimate company and requesting information in a phone or email scam; sifting through the trash; gaining information provided to an unsecured Internet site; and obtaining credit reports by posing as a landlord or employer.  The Federal Trade Commission reports that identity theft is the number one consumer complaint, with 20 percent of the complaints coming from victims age 60 and older.


Among the other top complaint generators are computer scams, in which fraudsters posing as “tech support” from a well-known technology company, gain control of the victim’s computer and the sensitive personal information it contains.  Lottery and sweepstake scams, in which the victim is told he or she must make substantial advance payments of taxes or fees in order to claim winnings that do not exist, are also common.


A particularly alarming type of fraud is the grandparent scam.  In these cases, scammers call a senior pretending to be a family member, often a grandchild, claiming to be in urgent need of money to cover medical care or a legal problem, such as for bail or legal services following a supposed arrest.  This is a particularly cruel scam, as it combines financial loss with unwarranted worry over a loved one.

Two issues that have arisen repeatedly during the Committee’s investigations are the frequency with which victims do not report fraud and the difficulty they encounter in determining where they should turn for help.  Fortunately, the Committee’s focus on increasing awareness of senior fraud is paying dividends.

Thanks to the cooperation of police departments and senior-oriented agencies in Maine in getting the word out, our state is leading the nation this year in Hotline usage.  Our small state, with the nation’s oldest median age, is at the forefront in bringing attention to the serious problem of fraud against our seniors.  

My monthly SeniorSource newsletter, which provides regular updates on a range of aging issues, includes an insert with anti-fraud tips and the Hotline’s toll-free number (1-855-303-9470) than can be clipped out and placed near the telephone or on the refrigerator.  To sign up for this informative newsletter, please email  There will always be ruthless individuals who will try to defraud seniors of their hard-earned life savings.  Working together, we can stop them.

The 5 Most Common Infections in the Elderly

Infections in the Elderly

Common infections like UTIs and influenza can happen to anyone, but for adults over the age of 65, these illnesses may be much harder to diagnose — leading to ongoing discomfort, chronic poor health and a higher risk of hospitalization or even death.

In fact, one third of all deaths in seniors over 65 result from infectious diseases, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). Though seniors are more susceptible to infection overall, seniors with dementia or those who are in long-term care may be at an even greater risk.

For caregivers, it’s critical to learn about the most common infections in the elderly and their often-elusive signs and symptoms: “Nonspecific symptoms, such as loss of appetite, decline in functioning, mental status changes, incontinence and falls, may be the presenting signs of infection,” according to an article in Infectious Disease Clinics of North America.

If we stay alert to any changes in senior health, and take steps to ward off any infections that might be preventable, we can help promote greater wellness and quality of life for our loved ones in their golden years.

Here are the five most common infections in the elderly:

1. Urinary Tract Infections in the Elderly

Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are the most common bacterial infection in older adults, reports the AAFP. The use of catheters or the presence of diabetes can increase the risk of UTIs in elderly people. Sudden changes in behavior, such as confusion or worsening of dementia, or the onset of urinary incontinence, are common warning signs — pain or discomfort don’t necessarily happen with UTIs in seniors. If you suspect a UTI, a physician can perform a urinalysis or other testing to confirm the diagnosis, and then prescribe antibiotics if needed. Caregivers should make sure their loved ones drink plenty of water, as this can help prevent UTIs.

2. Elderly Skin Infections

Changes to aging skin and its ability to heal and resist disease mean that skin infections get much more common as we get older. These include viral infections like herpes zoster (shingles), pressure ulcers, bacterial or fungalfoot infections (which can be more common in those with diabetes), cellulitis, and even drug-resistant infections like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Stay alert to any unusual skin itching, lesions or pain, and seek treatment if your loved one is in discomfort. Most skin infections are treatable, and shingles is preventable with a simple vaccine. Ward off other skin infections by practicing good hygiene such as proper hand washing, particularly if your loved one lives in a senior care community.

3. Bacterial Pneumonia in the Elderly

More than 60% of seniors over 65 get admitted to hospitals due to pneumonia (AAFP). Seniors are at greater risk for pneumonia for a variety of reasons, including changes in lung capacity, increased exposure to disease in community settings, and increased susceptibility due to other conditions like cardiopulmonary disease or diabetes. Classic symptoms like fever, chills and cough are less frequent in the elderly, says the Infectious Disease Clinics of North America; instead, keep an eye out for nonrespiratory symptoms like weakness, confusion, or delirium. Doctors usually prescribe antibiotic treatment for bacterial pneumonia. Some types of pneumonia can be effectively prevented using a pneumococcal vaccine, and this is highly recommended for nursing home residents.

4. Elderly Influenza

Influenza and pneumonia combined add up to the sixth leading cause of death in America — 90% of these in senior adults (AAFP). Weakened immunity in the elderly, along with other chronic conditions, increases the risk of developing severe complications from influenza, such as pneumonia. Because influenza is easily transmitted by coughing and sneezing, the risk of infection increases in a closed environment like a nursing home. Cough, fever, and chills are the common symptoms, though, again, influenza may present different signs in older adults. Annual flu vaccinations are usually recommended for seniors in order to prevent infection, but for those already infected, a physician may prescribe antiviral medications to reduce symptoms.

5. Gastrointestinal Infections in the Elderly

Age-related changes to digestion and gastrointestinal flora put seniors at increased risk of developing gastrointestinal infections. Two of the most common are Helicobacter pylori, which may cause nausea, upper abdominal pain, and fever as well as leading to long-term illness such as ulcer or gastritis; and Clostridium difficile, an increasingly common diarrhea-causing infection, which usually occurs due to antibiotic treatments that suppress healthy gastrointestinal flora. Both illnesses are more common in long-term care facilities. While H. pylori is treated using a combination of drug therapies, C. difficile treatment involves halting the use of the antibiotic causing the problem.

Reprinted from A Place For Mom.

For the Elderly, Falls May Prove Deadly

Taking a tumble may do more than break a senior’s bones—it could also increase their risk of death.

For people 65 years old and older falls are the number one cause of death from an injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2013 alone, more than 25,500 seniors died from injuries sustained in a fall.

And, while the death rates of ailments such as cancer and heart disease have declined over time, death rates from falls have increased, particularly among the elderly—with 55% of fall deaths in 2013 happening to people who were at least 65 years old.

The real cause of death

The most common form of fall among the elderly population is a ground-level fall (where a person is standing on the ground before the fall). While this may not seem very dangerous when compared to a fall from a second-story window, consider this: a study conducted by researchers from the University of Mississippi, found that seniors older than 70 years experienced a three-fold increase in their risk of death after a ground-level fall when compared with those 69 years and younger.

What’s behind this increased risk of death?

Depending on how a senior lands when they fall, they could experience everything from a broken hip to a traumatic brain injury.

According to the CDC, trauma to the brain was the cause of death in 41% of fall fatalities among seniors in the year 2010.

Even a less serious injury, like a broken bone, could require risky a surgical procedure involving sedation and further trauma—two things that can also put an older person’s life in jeopardy. Preexisting conditions as well the overall physical frailty that plagues many aging adults can also impede their recovery from an injury-causing fall.

Even if a senior survives the fall and subsequent medical care, a longer recovery time translates to a longer hospital stay that can make a senior more vulnerable to disease and may ultimately render them incapable of caring for themselves. Only 22% of seniors in the University of Mississippi study could handle living on their own after being released from the hospital after a fall.

Preventing a treacherous tumble

A variety of factors can increase a senior’s risk of falling. Age alone contributes to this risk by interfering with a person’s eyesight, balance, and coordination. Add in elements like slippery floors, patches of ice and snow, and medications that can disorient a senior, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an accident.

Even the just the fear of falling may increase a loved one’s risk, according to a study done on older Australians.

Not every fall can be prevented, but taking certain steps can reduce a senior’s risk:

  1. Construct a fall-proof environment: Whether your elderly loved one lives in their own home or with you, there are several things you can do to reduce their risk of falling. Removing clutter, throw rugs, and low-lying furniture can prevent tripping and installing grab bars in the bathroom and other slippery areas can provide additional stability for a senior.
  2. Double-check medications: Certain prescription meds can make a senior dizzy and thus increase the chance that they might fall. Have a pharmacist double-check your elderly loved one’s medications to make sure that they are not increasing their risk of falling.
  3. Encourage exercise: Exercise, particularly weight-bearing exercise can increase a senior’s coordination and strengthen their bones, which can help prevent and/or minimize the negative effects of fall.
  4. Get their eyes and bones tested: Remedying vision problems and treating osteoporosis can go a long way to protecting your senior from deadly falls.

Reprinted from Aging Care.


Why a POLST form is an essential tool for caregivers

If you provide long-term care for a loved one with a serious illness or condition, learn more about the Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form and how it can protect your loved one—and you.

As caregivers, we are so busy tending to our loved one’s quality of life from day to day that it’s often difficult to think about end-of-life issues. That was certainly true for me when my mother was living with advanced dementia in a nursing home.  As I’ll explain shortly, I thought I had everything in place to honor her preferences for her end of life, but protecting her from unnecessary medical intervention turned out to be more complicated, and traumatic, than I expected.

If your loved one already has a Health Care Proxy and Living Will, that’s terrific. You may also have asked their doctor to sign an “Out of Hospital Do Not Resuscitate” (DNR) order. But a 4thdocument, less well-known, is equally as important: the Physician’s Orders for Life- Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form (available in many, but not, all states; see below).

A neon-pink POLST form

Why do we need POLST forms?

First of all, neither Health Care Proxies nor Living Wills are honored by EMS crews in an emergency. A DNR form should be honored by EMS crews, by law, but a POLST form is neon pink, designed to grab the attention of EMS crews in a commanding kind of way. It’s also more detailed, and updated and signed by your loved one’s physician on a regular basis, so it carries more weight than these other forms with EMS crews, hospitals, and elder care facilities.

A POLST is for patients with serious health conditions who

  • Want to avoid or receive life-sustaining treatment
  • Reside in a long-term care facility or require long-term care services, or
  • Might die within the next year.

The POLST form details the patient’s preferences for:

  • Resuscitation instructions when the patient has no pulse and/or is not breathing
  • Instructions for intubation and mechanical ventilation when the patient has a pulse and the patient is breathing
  • Treatment guidelines
  • Future hospitalization and transfer
  • Artificially administered fluids and nutrition
  • Antibiotics, and
  • Other instructions about treatments not listed.

How are POLST forms Different From Living Wills?

Unlike a Living Will, which is generally completed once, a POLST form (in some states called a MOLST form, for Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment) can be updated as the patient’s condition changes, per the patient’s wishes, or, if the patient can no longer make medical decisions, per the caregiver’s understanding of their wishes.

The author’s mother, Judy

My mother’s POLST form offered some protection from unnecessary trips to the E.R., but I misunderstood one section. I had assumed that since my mother was on “comfort care only” in the last few months of her life that she would never be sent to the hospital. I was wrong. One night shortly before Mom died, the night nurse at her nursing home sent her to the E.R. at 3:00 in the morning because she had difficulty breathing. Instead of contacting the nursing home doctor in the middle of the night and starting comfort care measures such as morphine, the nurse called an ambulance. I didn’t see the nurse’s message on my cell phone until 8 a.m., so by then Mom had been subjected to a battery of tests all alone. I managed to have her transferred back to the nursing home, but her vital signs plummeted before the morphine kicked in to relieve her discomfort. She passed away 3 days later from heart failure after much unnecessary trauma.

As I suggested to the nursing home’s director a few weeks after Mom died, it might have been a good idea for the staff to go over the POLST form with me during one of the many care plan meetings I attended.  In hindsight, I realize that I should have talked with the staff about what can be done for comfort care in a nursing home, and what might require a hospital visit.

As family caregivers, we need encouragement to talk about end-of-life issues. We don’t always understand what different terms mean, and we need clear communication with doctors and facility staff. The POLST serves as a valuable tool to begin that conversation, protect our loved one’s wishes as best we can, and support ourselves as caregivers when we are faced with very difficult decisions.

To find out if there is a POLST (or MOLST) form provided by your state, visit the Physician’s Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment website.

Reprinted from


Common Fraud Schemes

Fraud Target: Senior Citizens

Our Common Fraud Schemes webpage provides tips on how you can protect you and your family from fraud. Senior Citizens especially should be aware of fraud schemes for the following reasons:

  • Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists.
  • People who grew up in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s were generally raised to be polite and trusting. Con artists exploit these traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these individuals to say “no” or just hang up the telephone.
  • Older Americans are less likely to report a fraud because they don’t know who to report it to, are too ashamed at having been scammed, or don’t know they have been scammed. Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs.
  • When an elderly victim does report the crime, they often make poor witnesses. Con artists know the effects of age on memory, and they are counting on elderly victims not being able to supply enough detailed information to investigators. In addition, the victims’ realization that they have been swindled may take weeks—or more likely, months—after contact with the fraudster. This extended time frame makes it even more difficult to remember details from the events.
  • Senior citizens are more interested in and susceptible to products promising increased cognitive function, virility, physical conditioning, anti-cancer properties, and so on. In a country where new cures and vaccinations for old diseases have given every American hope for a long and fruitful life, it is not so unbelievable that the con artists’ products can do what they claim.

What to Look For and How to Protect Yourself and Your Family

Health Care Fraud or Health Insurance Fraud

Medical Equipment Fraud:

Equipment manufacturers offer “free” products to individuals. Insurers are then charged for products that were not needed and/or may not have been delivered.

“Rolling Lab” Schemes:

Unnecessary and sometimes fake tests are given to individuals at health clubs, retirement homes, or shopping malls and billed to insurance companies or Medicare.

Services Not Performed:

Customers or providers bill insurers for services never rendered by changing bills or submitting fake ones.

Medicare Fraud:

Medicare fraud can take the form of any of the health insurance frauds described above. Senior citizens are frequent targets of Medicare schemes, especially by medical equipment manufacturers who offer seniors free medical products in exchange for their Medicare numbers. Because a physician has to sign a form certifying that equipment or testing is needed before Medicare pays for it, con artists fake signatures or bribe corrupt doctors to sign the forms. Once a signature is in place, the manufacturers bill Medicare for merchandise or service that was not needed or was not ordered.

Tips for Avoiding Health Care Fraud or Health Insurance Fraud:

  • Never sign blank insurance claim forms.
  • Never give blanket authorization to a medical provider to bill for services rendered.
  • Ask your medical providers what they will charge and what you will be expected to pay out-of-pocket.
  • Carefully review your insurer’s explanation of the benefits statement. Call your insurer and provider if you have questions.
  • Do not do business with door-to-door or telephone salespeople who tell you that services of medical equipment are free.
  • Give your insurance/Medicare identification only to those who have provided you with medical services.
  • Keep accurate records of all health care appointments.
  • Know if your physician ordered equipment for you.

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Counterfeit Prescription Drugs

Tips for Avoiding Counterfeit Prescription Drugs:

  • Be mindful of appearance. Closely examine the packaging and lot numbers of prescription drugs and be alert to any changes from one prescription to the next.
  • Consult your pharmacist or physician if your prescription drug looks suspicious.
  • Alert your pharmacist and physician immediately if your medication causes adverse side effects or if your condition does not improve.
  • Use caution when purchasing drugs on the Internet. Do not purchase medications from unlicensed online distributors or those who sell medications without a prescription. Reputable online pharmacies will have a seal of approval called the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS), provided by the Association of Boards of Pharmacy in the United States.
  • Be aware that product promotions or cost reductions and other “special deals” may be associated with counterfeit product promotion.

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Funeral and Cemetery Fraud

Tips for Avoiding Funeral and Cemetery Fraud:

  • Be an informed consumer. Take time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who may offer some perspective to help make difficult decisions. Funeral homes are required to provide detailed general price lists over the telephone or in writing.
  • Educate yourself fully about caskets before you buy one, and understand that caskets are not required for direct cremations.
  • Understand the difference between funeral home basic fees for professional services and any fees for additional services.
  • Know that embalming rules are governed by state law and that embalming is not legally required for direct cremations.
  • Carefully read all contracts and purchasing agreements before signing and make certain that all of your requirements have been put in writing.
  • Make sure you understand all contract cancellation and refund terms, as well as your portability options for transferring your contract to other funeral homes.
  • Before you consider prepaying, make sure you are well informed. When you do make a plan for yourself, share your specific wishes with those close to you.
  • As a general rule governing all of your interactions as a consumer, do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds. These decisions are yours and yours alone.

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Fraudulent “Anti-Aging” Products

Tips for Avoiding Fraudulent “Anti-Aging” Products:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for “Secret Formulas” or “Breakthroughs.”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the product. Find out exactly what it should and should not do for you.
  • Research a product thoroughly before buying it. Call the Better Business Bureau to find out if other people have complained about the product.
  • Be wary of products that claim to cure a wide variety of illnesses—particularly serious ones—that don’t appear to be related.
  • Be aware that testimonials and/or celebrity endorsements are often misleading.
  • Be very careful of products that are marketed as having no side effects.
  • Question products that are advertised as making visits to a physician unnecessary.
  • Always consult your doctor before taking any dietary or nutritional supplement.

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Telemarketing Fraud

If you are age 60 or older—and especially if you are an older woman living alone—you may be a special target of people who sell bogus products and services by telephone. Telemarketing scams often involve offers of free prizes, low-cost vitamins and health care products, and inexpensive vacations.

There are warning signs to these scams. If you hear these—or similar—“lines” from a telephone salesperson, just say “no thank you,” and hang up the telephone:

  • “You must act now, or the offer won’t be good.”
  • “You’ve won a free gift, vacation, or prize.” But you have to pay for “postage and handling” or other charges.
  • “You must send money, give a credit card or bank account number, or have a check picked up by courier.” You may hear this before you have had a chance to consider the offer carefully.
  • “You don’t need to check out the company with anyone.” The callers say you do not need to speak to anyone, including your family, lawyer, accountant, local Better Business Bureau, or consumer protection agency.
  • “You don’t need any written information about the company or its references.”
  • “You can’t afford to miss this high-profit, no-risk offer.”

Tips for Avoiding Telemarketing Fraud:

It’s very difficult to get your money back if you’ve been cheated over the telephone. Before you buy anything by telephone, remember:

  • Don’t buy from an unfamiliar company. Legitimate businesses understand that you want more information about their company and are happy to comply.
  • Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. If you get brochures about costly investments, ask someone whose financial advice you trust to review them. But, unfortunately, beware—not everything written down is true.
  • Always check out unfamiliar companies with your local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, state attorney general, the National Fraud Information Center, or other watchdog groups. Unfortunately, not all bad businesses can be identified through these organizations.
  • Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business. Some con artists give out false names, telephone numbers, addresses, and business license numbers. Verify the accuracy of these items.
  • Before you give money to a charity or make an investment, find out what percentage of the money is paid in commissions and what percentage actually goes to the charity or investment.
  • Before you send money, ask yourself a simple question. “What guarantee do I really have that this solicitor will use my money in the manner we agreed upon?”
  • Don’t pay in advance for services. Pay services only after they are delivered.
  • Be wary of companies that want to send a messenger to your home to pick up money, claiming it is part of their service to you. In reality, they are taking your money without leaving any trace of who they are or where they can be reached.
  • Always take your time making a decision. Legitimate companies won’t pressure you to make a snap decision.
  • Don’t pay for a “free prize.” If a caller tells you the payment is for taxes, he or she is violating federal law.
  • Before you receive your next sales pitch, decide what your limits are—the kinds of financial information you will and won’t give out on the telephone.
  • Be sure to talk over big investments offered by telephone salespeople with a trusted friend, family member, or financial advisor. It’s never rude to wait and think about an offer.
  • Never respond to an offer you don’t understand thoroughly.
  • Never send money or give out personal information such as credit card numbers and expiration dates, bank account numbers, dates of birth, or social security numbers to unfamiliar companies or unknown persons.
  • Be aware that your personal information is often brokered to telemarketers through third parties.
  • If you have been victimized once, be wary of persons who call offering to help you recover your losses for a fee paid in advance.
  • If you have information about a fraud, report it to state, local, or federal law enforcement agencies.

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Internet Fraud

As web use among senior citizens increases, so does their chances to fall victim to Internet fraud. Internet Fraud includes non-delivery of items ordered online and credit and debit card scams. Please visit the FBI’s Internet Fraud webpage for details about these crimes and tips for protecting yourself from them.

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Investment Schemes

As they plan for retirement, senior citizens may fall victim to investment schemes. These may include advance fee schemes, prime bank note schemes, pyramid schemes, and Nigerian letter fraud schemes. Please visit the Common Fraud Schemes webpage for more information about these crimes and tips for protecting yourself from them.

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Reverse Mortgage Scams

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG) urge consumers, especially senior citizens, to be vigilant when seeking reverse mortgage products. Reverse mortgages, also known as home equity conversion mortgages (HECM), have increased more than 1,300 percent between 1999 and 2008, creating significant opportunities for fraud perpetrators.

Reverse mortgage scams are engineered by unscrupulous professionals in a multitude of real estate, financial services, and related companies to steal the equity from the property of unsuspecting senior citizens or to use these seniors to unwittingly aid the fraudsters in stealing equity from a flipped property.

In many of the reported scams, victim seniors are offered free homes, investment opportunities, and foreclosure or refinance assistance. They are also used as straw buyers in property flipping scams. Seniors are frequently targeted through local churches and investment seminars, as well as television, radio, billboard, and mailer advertisements.

A legitimate HECM loan product is insured by the Federal Housing Authority. It enables eligible homeowners to access the equity in their homes by providing funds without incurring a monthly payment. Eligible borrowers must be 62 years or older who occupy their property as their primary residence and who own their property or have a small mortgage balance. See the FBI/HUD Intelligence Bulletin for specific details on HECMs as well as other foreclosure rescue and investment schemes.

Tips for Avoiding Reverse Mortgage Scams:

  • Do not respond to unsolicited advertisements.
  • Be suspicious of anyone claiming that you can own a home with no down payment.
  • Do not sign anything that you do not fully understand.
  • Do not accept payment from individuals for a home you did not purchase.
  • Seek out your own reverse mortgage counselor.

If you are a victim of this type of fraud and want to file a complaint, please submit information through our electronic tip line or through your local FBI office. You may also file a complaint with HUD-OIG or by calling HUD’s hotline at 1-800-347-3735.

Additional Resources on Frauds Impacting Seniors: Resources for Seniors
 Resources from the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging

Guide to Financing Senior Care

Guide to Paying for Senior Care

With the average lifespan increasing, more adult children are caring for aging parents who have depleted their savings. According to the Genworth 2014 Cost of Care Survey (U.S. Only), the average annual cost of a one bedroom apartment in an assisted living community is $42,000 per year. A private room in a nursing home averages more than $87,600 per year. Paying for care requires understanding options through research and careful planning.


Long-term care insurance (LTCI) in the U.S. and Canada helps pay for costs not covered by private medical insurance. This type of plan can help minimize the financial impact of long-term health care needs. In general, long-term care insurance will cover the cost of home care, assisted living, adult daycare, respite care, hospice care, nursing home and Alzheimer’s care facilities. Most companies will not insure people with preexisting conditions; it’s easier to buy LTCI before health issues arise.


Instead of allowing a life insurance policy to lapse or be surrendered; the owner can convert their policy into a Long Term Care Benefit Plan. Any type of in-force life insurance policy (Term, Universal, Whole and Group) with a death benefit of $50,000-$1,000,000 can be quickly and easily converted into a Long Term Care Benefit Plan that will start covering immediate costs of any form of Senior Care the policy owner chooses.

It is a unique financial option for seniors because it pays for immediate care needs, all health conditions are accepted, there are no wait periods, no care limitations, no costs or obligations to apply, no requirement to be terminally ill, and there are no premium payments. Policy owners have the legal right to convert an in-force life insurance policy to enroll in the benefit plan, and are able to immediately direct tax-exempt payments to cover their senior housing and long term care costs.


Many U.S. citizens are surprised to learn that Medicare is not universal health care for people over 65 and does not cover long-term care costs for seniors.


A reverse mortgage, also called a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) – is a type of loan for homeowners over the age of 62 that turns equity saved in a home into cash. When someone secures a reverse mortgage, they are then able to use the money from their home equity while also living in and retaining ownership of their home. There are no restrictions on how you can use the money from a reverse mortgage. Traditionally, the disadvantages of a reverse mortgage are the relatively high closing costs, but if you need money for any purpose, and are concerned about not being able to make the payments on a normal loan, then a reverse mortgage may be right for you.

Reprinted from A Place for Mom

Elderly Home Safety Checklist

Elderly Home Safety Checklist

Use this checklist to determine whether or not a senior citizen is safe living home alone given the current state of the home. Any NO response indicates an area of concern. NO responses do not necessarily mean that the person can no longer remain home, but indicates areas in which the home may require modifications, or assistance may need to be brought in to ensure safety.

If the senior is unable to perform the task independently mark NO; if a caregiver is available to assist with the task mark CAREGIVER. This will help determine whether the care recipient is safe without a caregiver present.

Home Interior Yes No
Stairs inside home are safe
End of stairs is clearly marked (top and bottom)
Handrails on both sides of stairs
Hallways and doorways wide and obstruction free
Fire extinguisher available
Smoke detectors present
Adequate lighting
Throw rugs absent
Area rugs secure and safe
Adequate heat
Adequate cooling
Space heaters safe
Hazardous materials stored safely
Adequate plumbing
Absence of rodents/insects
Adequate trash pickup
Space free of clutter/debris
Electrical cords safe
Safe use of electrical circuits/extension cords
Furniture arranged to facilitate mobility
Furniture appears sturdy and in good repair
Non-carpeted floors are not slippery
Door thresholds safe
Safe water temperature
Safe Storage of Chemicals Yes No Caregiver
Able to distinguish between products
Chemicals stored away from food
Outdated products safely disposed
Flammables kept away from heat
Exterior Yes No Caregiver
Able to get in/out of front door safely
Able to get in/out rear door
Able to retrieve mail/newspapers
Ramp available, if needed
Stairs safe and in good repair
Railing on stairs
Proper lighting
Snow/ice removal, when needed
Bathroom Yes No Caregiver
Able to get into bathroom
Able to turn on light
Able to get on/off commode
Able to safely transfer in/out of tub or shower
Able to use faucets
Soap available
Safe use of transfer bench
Night light, if needed
Grab bars available and secure
Raised toilet seat, if needed
Non-slip mat or strips in tub or shower
Proper disposal of soiled incontinence pads
Adequate cleaning/sanitizing
Kitchen Yes No Caregiver
Adequate food storage
Able to recognize if stove/oven is on
Able to feel heat
Fire extinguisher available
Smoke detectors present
Able to prepare meal
Able to operate microwave
Able to get groceries
Frequently used items within reach
Pet Care Yes No Caregiver
Pets safe underfoot
Able to feed pets
Able to let pet outside
Able to change litter box
Able to provide pet adequate exercise
Bedroom Yes No Caregiver
Able to get in and out of bed
Room for hospital bed, if needed
Light accessible
Phone accessible from bed
Emergency alert system accessible from bed
Adequate heat
Bedside commode
Flashlight available
Night light, if needed
Mobility Yes No Caregiver
Absence of falls
Balance stable
Able to maneuver assistive device
Activity tolerance
Shoes are safe and comfortable
Communication Yes No Caregiver
Able to utilize telephone
Emergency response system available
Able to use system
Can call for help in emergency
Able to exit in emergency
Able to clearly communicate needs
Able to hear alarms
Personal Safety Yes No Caregiver
Safe clothing for ambulation and circulation
Wears shoes or non-skid socks inside
Able to self-manage medications
Safe storage of medications
Able to manage thermostat
Able to verbalize and enact emergency plan
Oxygen Care Yes No Caregiver
No smoking around oxygen
Able to safely change/refill tanks, as needed
Tubing does not obstruct safe ambulation
 Reprinted from A Place for Mom

7 Ways to Prevent Seniors from Fraud

We hear about new scams every day. They are very hard to recognize, and it is nearly impossible to stay current on the “scam of the week.” Unfortunately, our senior population is the prime target for fraudsters and scammers. Their diminished capacity simply makes them more vulnerable to undue influence, and the professional scammers capitalize on this—literally.
I postulate that every senior in our country will be solicited by a scammer, and it is almost impossible to stop. There are some steps you can take, however, to protect yourself and minimize the widespread damage caused by identity fraud:
1. File a Tax Return Whether You Need To or Not
In my elder law practice, countless clients have told me that they don’t file tax returns because they are under the income limits. And they are! However, notwithstanding the IRS rules and regulations, every person should now file a tax return even if not required.
If a social security number is unlawfully obtained (which is quite easy these days) and used to file tax returns seeking a refund, the senior may never know that the fraudulent return was filed. Refunds are mailed quickly after returns are filed, and the IRS estimates that it sent nearly three million fraudulent refunds out to con-artists in 2013, which cost taxpayers $5.2 billion that year alone. Refunds can be paid out to prepaid debit cards that do not need to be registered, and so the criminal is almost impossible to catch.
Unwinding this mess is a time-consuming process of standing in line for hours.
2. Protect Confidential Information
Seniors can lose their ability to appreciate the gravity of exposing personal and confidential information. If they are in an assisted living community, there are many people that can enter and exit their apartment, including cleaning and caregiving staff. The vast majority of them are honest and hardworking people, but some are not. Having unsecured sensitive information in the apartment can be the seed that grows into a full blown identity theft issue.
3. Track Purchases and Payments
Seniors are a “protected class” in California (and perhaps in other states) for good reason. They are often the targets of choice for crooks. Their diminished capacity can also affect good decision making even if no fraud is involved. Monitoring a parent’s purchases and payments can clue you into purchases and/or payment requests that just don’t seem right. In my practice, I have seen seniors paying hundreds of dollars a month for magazine subscriptions, memberships, newspapers that they don’t even read, and more.
4. Subscribe to Identity Theft Websites
I had my folks each subscribe to one of the nationally recognized identity protection services. It is a small monthly cost for the protection they offer. The service tracks use of social security numbers and more. The quicker you are alerted to a fraudulent credit application, the better your chances of stopping it—and in time to avoid serious financial consequences.
This is also a good way to see if your folks are obtaining credit and whether or not it is in good judgment.
5. Alert Seniors to Online Scams
The older population is getting more Internet savvy. However, the scammers are even better! Seniors need to be educated as to what to look for online and how to recognize a possible scam. They need to opt for security rather than satisfying their intrigue of the offer presented to them. Simple instructions as to what to look for in a scam (possibly written out for them) will minimize their exposure.
We all have seen the emails from foreign countries saying that they need you to help by contributing a large sum of money. They ask for critical information such as account numbers and you social security number. Why do we all still get these? Because they still work!
6. Alert Seniors to Telephone Scams
Criminals are very creative. Some scammers call seniors pretending to be affiliated with the government and accuse them of not showing up for jury duty. They then tell the senior that there is a warrant out for their arrest, and, out of fear, the senior may give the caller their social security number and other vital contact information.
You need to talk with your aging loved ones REGULARLY and repeat how these scams work and how they should be handled. They may forget and wind up falling victim to one of these ploys.
7. Elder Abuse by Professionals
Unfortunately, elder abuse is on the rise and often occurs outside the family setting. An area fraught with temptation is caregiving. There are countless highly dedicated and sensitive caregivers that I applaud and respect for their challenging work. But there are also those few who take advantage of their patients. A caregiver often becomes a trusted friend to the people they care for. If the bond becomes too strong, a caregiver with bad intentions can easily influence a senior in negative ways.
There are countless lawsuits where caregivers had their client execute new estate planning documents or had themselves added as signers on the client’s accounts, systematically draining the patient of their resources. I often suggest that when the senior becomes too friendly, it is time to rotate other caregivers into the care setting, even to the extent of changing care companies.
It is important not to put the senior into the position of being subject to possible undue influence. A private setting in the senior’s home cannot be adequately monitored, so you need to judge the relationship carefully and possibly take action if the bond has become too strong, or you suspect ulterior motives.
Technology advances at lightning speed. Each time you encounter new scam opportunities, remember that your folks are probably being confronted with them as well. Help them protect themselves and stay vigilant. Defending our elders from identity theft and fraud is just one of the many responsibilities we take on as we help care for them. Planning ahead, staying organized, and being aware is the best way to prevent elder abuse of any kind. Don’t fear the eldercare journey, just prepare for it.

Stuart Furman, Esq., is an elder law attorney with over 34 years of experience. He is President of the Southern California Legal Center, Inc. and author of “The ElderCare Ready Book” (2015) and “The ElderCare Ready Pack” (2015).
Reprinted from

How to use a Life Insurance Policy to pay for Long-term Care

An active life insurance policy is a no-no for individuals who are seeking to spend-down their assets to qualify for Medicaid.

Considered an, “unqualified asset,” any life insurance policy with more than $2,000 in value must be dealt with properly before an elder can receive financial assistance from Medicaid. (Learn more about Medicaid and long term care expenses)

Some seniors end up abandoning their policies, or letting them lapse, by ceasing to pay their monthly premiums. Others surrender their plans in order to receive a pre-determined, “cash surrender value,” a lump sum of money that varies in value based on how many payments the policy holder has made and what the overall worth of their policy is.

There is, however, a third option that most people fail to consider when facing a Medicaid spend down: converting a life insurance policy into a Long-Term Care Benefit Plan.


Need Help Paying for Care?
A Life Insurance Policy can be converted into a Long Term Care Benefit Account to pay for the cost of Senior Care directly each month. No fees or obligations to apply. Click here to see if you qualify.

What is a long-term care benefit plan?

Anyone in possession of an in-force life insurance policy has the ability to transform that policy into a pre-funded financial account that will disburse a monthly benefit stipend to help pay for that individual’s long term care needs. Unlike life insurance, a long-term care benefit plan account is a Medicaid qualified asset. (Learn how life insurance can affect Medicaid eligibility)

The conversion process transfers ownership of a life insurance policy from the original holder, to an entity that acts as the benefits administrator. Because the original owner no longer holds the policy, it won’t count against them in the Medicaid spend down process.

The benefits administrator assumes all responsibility for paying the monthly premiums on the policy to the insurance company, and agrees to pay the previous policy holder a series of monthly payments based on the value of their policy. These payments can then be used to pay for a person’s home care, nursing home, hospice care and assisted living costs.

If this process sounds unfamiliar, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most people don’t know that the long-term care benefit conversion option exists.

“For the last 100 years, anyone who’s owned a life insurance policy has had the right to do this,” says Chris Orestis, co-founder and CEO of Life Care Funding, a company specializing in life insurance policy conversions. “The problem is that most people are unaware that this option exists.”

Examples of paying for care by converting life insurance

To give you a better idea of how life insurance policy conversion works, consider the following examples:

Allowing a loved one to age in place

Mary (names have been changed) has been taking care of her husband, Bill, who has dementia, in their home. Lately, Bill’s condition has deteriorated to the point where Mary can no longer look after him by herself. Together, Mary and Bill own a life insurance policy worth $20,500. Mary cannot continue to make the payments on this policy and considers letting it lapse. Instead, she ends up converting it into a long-term care benefit plan that pays $350 every month, for 15 months, enough money to hire a home caregiver to help her take care of Bill. She as also able to retain $1,028 in the account for future funeral expenses.

Extending an assisted living stay

The Williams family wants to continue to pay for their mother to live in an assisted living community. However, they keep coming up just shy of being able to cover her monthly expenses. Ms. Williams has a life insurance policy worth $27,000, and her children look in to how much money their mother would receive if she surrendered the policy. They were disappointed to find that the plan would only translate into a few thousand dollars. After hearing about the long-term care benefit plan option, the Williams siblings decided to put their mother’s policy through the conversion process. Doing so resulted in a monthly benefit of $975 a month for 12 months—enough to make up the shortfall in their mother’s assisted living costs. Ms. William’s also got to keep a funeral benefit of $1,357.

The pros and cons of conversion

On the surface, it seems like life insurance policy conversion is a no-brainer, but the method has its advantages and disadvantages.


  • There are no monthly premium payments
  • You can convert any type of life insurance plan: whole, term or universal
  • Monthly payout amounts are adjustable based on how many months a person wants to receive payments. (For instance, a person whose life insurance policy converts into $12,000 in total benefits could choose to receive 12 monthly payments of $1,000, or 24 monthly payments of $500)
  • Monthly payouts do not count against an individual seeking to qualify for Medicaid coverage sometime in the near future. A long-term care benefit plan is recognized by Medicaid as an acceptable spend-down during the five year look-back period.
  • A long-term care benefit plan is comprised of “private pay” dollars, which means that it can be used to pay for any kind of care—home care, nursing home, assisted living and hospice.
  • A special fund is set aside for future funeral expenses


  • Anyone wishing to apply for a long-term benefit plan must have an immediate need for some form of acceptable long-term care (see examples above). This is because monthly payments are made directly to a long-term care provider, not the previous holder of the life insurance policy.
  • It’s not ideal for everyone. Orestis says that individuals with smaller policies ($10,000 or less) are probably better off holding on to their plan, or giving it up it in exchange for the cash surrender value. Also, people who have a life insurance policy with a large cash value built into it (i.e. a $100,000 policy with a $90,000 cash value) are better off taking that cash value than converting it.

It is also important to note that a long-term care benefit plan is not the same as a long-term care insurance plan.

According to Orestis, the biggest benefit of transforming a life insurance policy into a long-term care benefit plan is that it allows a person to remain private pay for a longer period of time. “The process can actually help aging individuals maintain some financial independence and dignity. It helps them exert more control over the type of care they receive,” he says.

If you’re interested in learning more about this process and exploring other options to help pay for long-term care, try seeking out the services of an independent financial advisor who specializes in the finances of older adults.

reprinted from


Create a Living Will

Ways to Create a Living Will

Posted On 16 Jul 2015

By : Jeff Anderson


Most Americans understand the basics of living wills. We understand that they are binding documents to specify our medical wishes if we can’t communicate because of illness or injury. We also realize that they address such questions as whether we want life extending treatment while terminally ill or in a permanent coma.

Though, many of us need assistance creating a living will. Learn more about how to create your own.

Create a Living Will

According to a recent poll, 42% of American adults have living wills, which is a vast improvement over the mere 17% of American adults who had living wills in 1991. But, 42% is not good enough. Healthcare experts say all adults ought to have a living will, including some prominent advocates we featured on our blog, such as Nathan Kottkamp, founder of National Health Care Decisions Day, and Paul Malley of Aging with Dignity.

If you have older parents, there’s a good chance they have already completed a living will. While for all adults, living will adoption is 42%, more than half of seniors have taken this step, according to an ABC News poll.

If you’re not sure whether your parent has a living will, simply ask. It’s among the most important questions to ask an older loved one when verifying she or he has made satisfactory plans for potential long-term care and end-of-life care needs. Older parents who don’t have a living will usually agree to create one when they are approached about it in a kind and sensitive manner. But some parents will resist for various reasons.

A great way to get your parent or loved one to complete a living will is to complete yours first, or even complete a living will with your parent. You could say something like:

“Mom, I’m making a living will now and I think you should too. It’s not because I think you won’t be around long. It’s just the right thing to do.”

This approach shows parents we aren’t necessarily asking them to create a living because we’re worried about their health. It could be seen as hypocritical to ask your parent to complete living will without being willing to take that same step yourself.

Ensuring Your Living Will is Legally Valid

Living wills involve more than merely writing your wishes on a notepad and putting them in a safe place.

Living wills are legal documents. To make sure your living will is honored, use the appropriate documents for your state, complete them properly, and file them with the right local authority.

To make sure you get the right documents, use the links below, which feature some of the best websites with free, downloadable and state-specific living wills.

State-Specific Living Will Downloads

Several excellent websites provide free, state-specific legal documents with clear instructions that can be downloaded and used to create a valid living will anywhere in the U.S:

Another great resource is the Five Wishes living will from Aging with Dignity, which is valid in 43 of 50 states.

Making Sense of Living Wills

Before completing any forms, you may want to familiarize yourself with the basic of living wills and associated documents like power of attorney for health care.

Unfortunately, the terminology of living wills can be a bit confusing. This is is largely a consequence of living in a nation with 50 semi-sovereign states  that have their own legal systems.

Some states simply call a living will a living will, but others have inexplicably wordy and idiosyncratic terms. For example, depending on your state, the  living will document may have various official names including:

  • Declaration
  • Health Care Directive
  • Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates
  • Instructional Directive

Living Will Requirements and Terminology in Your State

To help you quickly understand the requirements and terminology in your state, read these simple definitions of the most standard terms for the three main documents related to your healthcare wishes.

You can then refer to the alphabetical list of states below to see what this document is officially called in your state:

  1. Living Will: A document that expresses your healthcare and end-of-life care wishes.
  2. Power of Attorney for Health Care: A document naming a person to help assure your healthcare issues are honored and with authority to make medical decisions for you in areas where your wishes are unspecified or unclear. This person is called a “health care proxy,” “agent,” or “surrogate.”
  3. Advance Directive: A document that combines the powers of a living will and power of attorney for health care.

Some states require two documents: both a living will and a power of attorney for health care, which complement one another. Other states have simplified the process by using an advance directive, whichcombines the living will and power of attorney for health care. In other words, some states use a one-document system and others use a two-document system:

  • One-document system: A single document specifies your wishes and also empowers a health care proxy
  • Two-document system: Separate documents specify healthcare wishes and empower a health care proxy

A few states accommodate both methods. In these states, it is probably simpler to use the one-document options, but there may be circumstances in which a two-document approach is preferable.

Finding the Number of Documents Required in Your State

Using the definitions above as a starting point to assure mutual understanding, the list of states below provides each state’s particular (and sometimes peculiar) living will terms. The number of terms defined also indicates the number of documents required:

  • In states that use the one-document system, one term is defined
  • In states with the two-document system have two terms defined
  • In the states where both methods are accommodated, we provide the state’s official term for advance directive in addition to the state’s terms for living will and durable power of attorney for healthcare

Living Will Related Terms in the 50 States and D.C.

  • Alabama: Living Will =  Advance Directive for Health Care
  • Alaska: Living Will = Advance Health Care Directive
  • Arizona: Living Will = Living Will | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care =  Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Arkansas: Living Will = Living Will | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • California: Living Will = Advance Health Care Directive
  • Colorado: Living Will = Declaration as to Medical or Surgical Treatment | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care =  Medical Durable Power of Attorney
  • Connecticut: Living Will = Document Concerning Health Care and With­holding or Withdrawal of Life Support Systems | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Appointment of Health Care Representative | Advance Directive (one-document alternative) =  Health Care Instructions and Appointment of Health Care Representative
  • Delaware: Living Will = Advance Health Care Directive
  • District of Columbia: Living Will = Declaration | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Florida: Living Will = Living Will | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Designation of Health Care Surrogate
  • Georgia: Living Will =  Advance Directive for Health Care
  • Hawaii: Living Will =  Advance Health Care Directive
  • Idaho: Living Will: Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Illinois Living Will = Declaration | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (Healthcare instructions can be made on the form designating a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare document, which provides a one-document option)
  • Indiana Living Will = Living Will Declaration | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Appointment of Health Care Representative
  • Iowa: Living Will = Declaration | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Kansas: Living Will = Declaration | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions
  • Kentucky: Living Will = Advance Directive
  • Louisiana: Living Will = Living Will Declaration
  • Maine: Living Will = Advance Health Care Directive
  • Maryland: Living Will = Advance Directive
  • Massachusetts: Living Will = Document Directing Health Care| Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care =Health Care Proxy
  • Michigan: Living Will = Document Directing Health Care | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care =Patient Advocate Designation
  • Minnesota: Living Will = Health Care Directive
  • Mississippi: Living Will = Advance Health Care Directive
  • Missouri: Living Will: Declaration | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Montana: Living Will: Declaration | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Nebraska: Living Will: Declaration | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Nevada: Living Will: Declaration | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions
  • New Hampshire: Living Will = Advance Directive
  • New Jersey: Living Will= Instruction Directive | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Proxy Directive| Advance Directive (one-document alternative) = Combined Advance Directive for Health Care
  • New Mexico: Living Will = Advance Health Care Directive
  • New York: Living Will = Document Directing Health Care | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care =Health Care Proxy
  • North Carolina: Living Will = Advance Directive| Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Health Care Power of Attorney
  • North Dakota: Living Will = Health Care Directive
  • Ohio: Living Will = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Oklahoma: Living Will = Advance Directive for Health Care
  • Oregon: Living Will = Advance Directive
  • Pennsylvania: Living Will: Living Will | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: Health Care Power of Attorney|
  • Rhode Island: Living Will: Declaration | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • South Carolina: Living Will: Declaration | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care: Health Care Power of Attorney (Healthcare instructions can be included with Health Care Power of Attorney document, which provides a one-document option)
  • South Dakota: Living Will = Living Will Declaration | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Tennessee: Living Will= Advance Health Care Directive
  • Texas: Living Will = Directive to Physicians and Family or Surrogates | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care= Medical Power of Attorney
  • Utah: Living Will = Advance Health Care Directive
  • Vermont: Living Will= Advance Directive
  • Virginia: Living Will = Advance Medical Directive
  • Washington: Living Will = Health Care Directive| Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • West Virginia: Living Will = Living Will | Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Medical Power of Attorney
  • Wisconsin:Living Will = Declaration to Physicians| Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care = Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Wyoming: Living Will = Advance Health Care Directive

(The state terminology is sourced from attorney Betsy Simmons Hannibal.)

Additional Living Will Resources

  • Aging With Dignity –  Website of organization that created Five Wishes, which includes information, resources and support to help people make their wishes known and assure they are respected
  • National Health Care Decisions Day – The website of the annual daily health observance contains valuable information and references for living wills and advance directives
  • Go Wish Cards – “A card game that is a simple way to think and talk about what’s important to individuals and their family members if someone becomes seriously ill”

Reprinted from A Place for Mom