College Park Retirement Blog
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Friday, 30 September 2016 18:54

The Benefits of Intergenerational Activities

Indianapolis retirement communityWhile it may seem boring to younger generations, spending time with seniors can be mutually beneficial. Cross generational interaction can pass along knowledge and wisdom in addition to being fun. As Margaret Mead said, “Somehow we have to get older people back close to growing children if we are to restore a sense of community, a knowledge of the past and a sense of the future.”

Keeping an open mind can help people of varying ages appreciate the challenges and opportunities that come with the territory. Interaction can be as simple as grandchildren teaching loved ones technology or grandparents sharing stories of their childhood or teenage years. The purpose is to develop a better understanding of each other. Along the way it is important to realize that there may be a collision of values along the way.

While the different generations may seem to have little in common with each other, stories and experiences can have a resonate deeply. Joining together can break down stereotypes and alter viewpoints. “We don’t have to agree with the values of different generations, but we can strive to understand the mind-sets of different generations and how each group sees the world based on their experiences,” says Dr. Morris Massey, an organizational development scholar.

Bridging the division that accompany age gaps can require flexibility in thoughts and actions. Individuals are shaped by history and life events. Today’s seniors and millennials can both relate to economic down turn. Baby Boomers were heavily influenced by the Great Depression, while Generation X have been affected by double digit inflation and a shrinking job market.

Intergenerational activity can be beneficial for all involved. The activity reduces isolation and poverty among seniors, while serving as a mentor that can enhance the lives of younger generations. Contact can enable the generations to become advocates for one another. The interaction can unite ages and develop solutions for illiteracy, crime prevention, health and environmental issues. According to Generations United, seniors who participate in intergenerational activities experience a higher quality of life and remain engaged in their communities. Additionally, these seniors remain active and engaged, leading to better mental and physical health.

Intergenerational activity plays a vital role in life at Regency Senior Living. Not only does our younger staff interact and assist the residents, they value and appreciate the wisdom and life experiences they share. We recognize the value of seniors and the contributions they make in any capacity.

Our Vice President of Business Development, Jeff Clay, remarks, “For those volunteers, both young and old, we create opportunities for intergenerational experiences.” To learn more about our volunteer opportunities and how you can enhance the lives of seniors, please call 844-511-3456.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 20:10

Assisted Living Linked to Long-Term Happiness

Happiness is a relative term for most people, and its meaning widely varies from person to person as well. Happiness can be found in hobbies, travel, wealth, family, friendships, or in many other places. But did you know that research suggests there is a strong tie between social bonding and a person’s long-term physical and mental health?

In 1938, Harvard University began a study which tracked 724 men who came from a variety of backgrounds – from rich to poor, educated to uneducated. They began by interviewing each man about their life and medically examining their blood work and brains as well, and continued this process every two years. Now, the surviving participants are in their 90s, for the most part, and the findings have proven to be very intriguing. Indianapolis retirement community

According to Robert Waldinger, professor of psychology and the fourth director of the Harvard study, 75 years of research has compiled fairly solid clues that lead to a couple of conclusions: people who are challenged with physical problems often experience unhappiness in later years; people who are physically healthier and have strong social bonds tend to be physically and mentally healthier in the long-term.

Even though an argument can be made that making friends at any age is difficult, consider the various social stages of a person’s life. During school years, you are surrounded by people who you can form bonds with, and the same applies to post-graduation as you move into a career. But, what happens after retirement when that built-in social network falls away?

This is where an Assisted Living community, like MorningSide of College Park, can play a vital role in long-term happiness. Waldinger suggests that people who make an effort to build new social relationships after retiring are much more likely to live happier lives as they age.

By moving into an Assisted Living community, the isolation that tends to accompany retirement does not impact a person as much. This is due to the design of the structured environment, which facilitates creating new social bonds, while also allowing individuals to find time to themselves.

At MorningSide of College Park, there are many planned activities each month, from physical activities to group outings. Seniors can further bond over games, meals, movies, worship, and much more. Even a person who has never considered himself to be a “social butterfly” may spread his social wings by finding common ground with another resident during a meal or activity. While moving into an unfamiliar place may be daunting at first, most residents relay that they feel as if they genuinely belong with their new “family” after the first few weeks.

A healthy balance of social interaction and physical activity found in an Assisted Living community can be the key to happiness that many aging seniors search for after retirement. It can also be the key to living a longer life, both mentally and physically.


To learn more about MorningSide of College Park, call (844) 511-3456.

Written by Kristen Camden

Friday, 29 July 2016 14:58

Assisted Living: Is it Time?

Determining when the time is right for an aging parent or disabled loved one to move into an Assisted Living community, like MorningSide of College Park, may not be an easy thing to do. Most people do not relish the idea of leaving their home and moving into a foreign residence, regardless of how necessary or beneficial it may be.

This life-changing decision may be a source of major conflict for families and especially for the senior facing the situation. Think of it in terms of a high school student who graduated and is now leaving home to live in a dorm at college. Anxiety, homesickness, and a wide variety of other emotions arise when a person moves to an unfamiliar place, where they may not know anyone and must make new friends. assisted living indianapolis

So, how does a grown child or family determine when the time is right to transition their aging parent into an Assisted Living community? There may be signs that prompt this consideration to occur, including:

• Housework and cooking become too difficult
• Remembering to take medicines is difficult
• Human interaction is limited to family or an occasional visit from a friend
• Being home alone cause fear and uneasiness
• Family spends most of their time on the loved one’s housework, lawn maintenance, home repairs, and personal care, as opposed to sharing time together and making memories
• Driving becomes difficult or impossible, causing the senior to rely on others to make it to appointments or even go shopping

Although having the “talk” may be difficult to initiate, it is an incredibly important first step. Be sure to have an open and honest conversation, where concerns are expressed and also listened to on each side, and then options are carefully and objectively weighed. Experts recommend giving options to choose between, as opposed to dictating how, when and what is going to happen.

It is also helpful to visit a variety of Assisted Living communities, in order for the individual to see the environment for themselves. There may be a preconceived notion that living in this type of community will be cold, sterile, and hospital-like; this misconception is related to nursing homes, which concentrate on giving skilled medical care.

In contrast, Assisted Living communities simply provide seniors with their own apartment, with the added benefit of trained staff to help with laundry, medications, and housekeeping. Residents are able to come and go freely, enjoy their meals in a social dining setting, and participate in planned activities.

MorningSide of College Park helps find the balance between an aging loved one’s desire for independence and social interaction with a family’s need for the peace of mind that comes along with knowing help is never far away.

To learn more about MorningSide of College Park, call (844) 511-3456.

Written by Kristen Camden

Wednesday, 29 June 2016 14:57

Tips for Making Retirement Savings Last

Unless a person wins the lottery or inherits a large sum of money, it is safe to assume that most people know that planning for retirement is a very important thing to do. Planning and saving money for the future is a topic that has been drilled into society’s head, especially since the workforce landscape changed in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Prior to the introduction of the portable 401(k) plan, many people would spend their entire career (which could be 30 years or more) with one company and then receive their pension when retired. That provided a certain type of “security” which faded as the portable 401(k) plan started being offered by companies.

These plans are positive for anyone who wants to change jobs and take their savings with them, but unfortunately not everyone takes advantage of them early enough – or at all, in some cases – in order to save enough money to retire comfortably and at the desired age. The US average life expectancy is now 81.2 years for women and 76.4 years for men, which makes time a liability in regard to planning for retirement.

How is anyone expected to juggle financial responsibilities like home mortgages, bills, children and their education, while trying to also save money for the future? And how do those who were affected by the housing crisis in 2008 and 2009 bounce back from their financial losses so they can save for retirement?Indianapolis retirement living

There are a few options that experts suggest in order to stretch money during retirement years. These tips will help those who need to live in an Assisted Living community, like MorningSide of College Park, afford it when the time comes.

• Start Saving Early – Saving for retirement can never start too early. When young adults begin working, it is very important that they begin contributing to their 401(k) in order to begin compounding interest.  
• Consult Professionals – Financial advisors can be very helpful when planning retirement. A “fiduciary” is legally obligated to offer advice and act in the best interest of their client, and can help plan retirement in a way that may save or defer tax burdens.
• Save Extra – There are people who are confident they are saving enough money to last through retirement, but they may not factor in medical emergencies, job loss, etc., which is why it is important to save even more than necessary.
• Don’t Rely on Social Security/Medicaid – The US News & World Report states that fewer people will be working to support retirees by 2050. One in six aging Americans live below the poverty line, which means the probability is high that the safety net will be strained as well.
• Keep Options Open – There may come a time when seniors must consider ways to finance their care, and flexibility could play an essential role. Some options to consider during this time are selling a home, living with a companion, and getting a reverse mortgage or low interest bridge loan.

Additional advice from experts includes: continuing to work after retirement, staying active and healthy in order to reduce health risks and medical bills, obtaining Long-Term Care Insurance, consolidating debt and paying off credit cards, and cutting back on spending. The last suggestion seems obvious enough, but it does take willpower and discipline.

Procrastination will only delay the inevitable. For seniors who want to travel, remain self-sufficient, and leave no burden on their family, it is imperative to plan ahead in addition to saving continually. Saving today will pay off when the time comes. Literally.

To learn more about MorningSide of College Park, call (844) 511-3456.

Written by Kristen Camden

Friday, 27 May 2016 18:23

Healthy Choices Key to Healthy Aging

Wouldn’t it be glorious to travel back in time and speak to the younger version of ourselves in order to warn of the dangers to our physical bodies associated with bad habits, and also to reinforce the importance of good habits? Unfortunately, a time machine has not been invented yet, so lessening the impact of our past choices, while making healthy choices now, is the best option available.

The first step to creating healthy habits is to understand how the body is impacted as it ages. It is natural for the following body parts to decline as we age:elder care indianapolis

  • Brain
  • Skin
  • Bones/Joints
  • Eyes/Ears
  • Digestive System
  • Teeth
  • Bladder/Prostate

There are steps that can be taken in order to minimize the long-term impact on each of these parts of the body. According to the National Institutes of Health, the following steps are suggested:

  • To improve brain function and help produce new cells, continue to learn and experience new things.
  • Eat foods high in antioxidants, as scientists believe that they have a positive impact and can delay neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
  • Always protect and cover skin that is exposed to the sun, and stay hydrated.
  • Speak to a doctor about getting the shingles vaccine, in order to boost immunity. Seniors over 50, who had chickenpox as a child, are at higher risk of developing shingles later in life.
  • Osteoporosis is often undetected, and affects women more than men. Getting enough vitamin D and calcium, being physically active, and not smoking are a few ways to lower the risk of weakening and breaking bones.
  • Decline in vision is inevitable with age, which is why regular eye exams are necessary to help detect early signs of eye disorders, such as glaucoma and cataracts.
  • Some hearing conditions cause a decline in ability to hear, such as Presbycusis. Being mindful of exposure to loud noises is important in order to preserve hearing, while hearing aids can improve the quality of hearing after it is affected.
  • Eating a diet that is rich in fiber can help with digestion issues. Whole-grain foods, vegetables, and fruits that are high in fiber, along with drinking plenty of water, can have a positive impact on the digestive system, as well as overall health.
  • Visiting the dentist for cleanings every 6 months will keep plaque from building up, along with brushing and flossing twice a day between visits.
  • Incontinence is a common age-associated condition, especially among women; for men, the prostate enlarges with age, causing difficulty releasing urine. Speak to a doctor about medications that are available, and drink more water and less caffeine to improve overall bladder health.

Staying active and making positive lifestyle changes are the keys to living a long and healthy life, according to the National Institute on Aging. While we can’t travel back in time to make better choices, we can make conscious decisions to maintain our health and not further damage our physical bodies.

One thing that experts agree on is that a healthy diet that includes moderate exercise is imperative in order to live a longer and healthier life. Following these suggested tips reduces risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, diabetes, and other health issues. At MorningSide of College Park, there are various physical and educational activities each month such as Flower Planting on June 6th, and a Men’s Health Awareness talk on June 13th

Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise plan or making major changes that can affect health. To learn more, visit http://www.nihseniorhealth.gov.

To learn more about MorningSide of College Park, call (844) 511-3456.

Written by Kristen Camden

While Alzheimer’s is not the only form of dementia, it is the most common, accounting for 60 – 80% of all dementia cases. Seniors 65 and older are typically the group of people affected by this type of dementia, but that does not make it a normal part of aging. It only means that increased age is the greatest risk factor known at this time.

Typically, age-related memory loss is normal to a certain extent. While many of these lapses in memory are normal, it is important to be aware of signs and symptoms of early Alzheimer’s, as it may be difficult to otherwise distinguish between the two. Alzheimer’s can cause a loved one to develop memory, thinking, and behavioral problems, which increasingly worsen over time and can eventually affect their ability to function in daily life.

So, how do you differentiate between them? Here are a few examples:

Symptoms of early Alzheimer's                                 Typical age-related memory loss

Changes in decision-making abilities/ Poor judgment       Occasionally making a poor decision  

Difficulty managing a monthly budget                           Forgetting to pay a bill once

Difficulty keeping track of what season it is                   Forgetting what day it is then remembering

Difficulty following or maintaining a conversation            Difficulty with trying to find the right word

Placing things in unusual places and then not                Misplacing things occasionally 
being able to retrace steps to locate them

More warning signs include: difficulty completing familiar daily tasks, spending more time than usual to do familiar things, forgetting how to play a favorite game, not knowing where they are or how they got there, difficulty retaining newly learned information, problems with vision and judging distance, personality and mood changes, and withdrawing from social activities and hobbies.

You may be thinking to yourself that your loved one has exhibited one or more of those signs. Before assuming the worst, it is also important to note that there are many reasons that a senior could be experiencing abnormal memory loss. For example, some seniors may be experiencing symptoms that are caused by a treatable condition like thyroid problems, drug interactions, substance or alcohol abuse, depression, and even a vitamin deficiency.memory care indianapolis

Individuals can experience one or more of these signs to varying degrees, and they develop slowly over time, making early detection very important. That is why it is essential to call your doctor if you notice a loved one exhibiting any of these symptoms, as well as be completely open with the doctor during the examination.

Although there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer’s, there is continued research and treatment that is available to slow the progression and worsening of symptoms. If diagnosed early enough, this will help improve the quality of life for your loved one and caregiver, as well as prolong levels of independence.

Broaching the topic takes delicacy, and may be uncomfortable for your loved one. But early diagnosis is key in order to plan ahead and allow the senior to make their wishes known regarding their future medical care and living arrangements.

Morningside of College Park Retirement Community offers our experience and resources to care for those with Alzheimer's and other memory-related challenges. The Reflections Centre offers the finest care for your loved one, and our staff is trained by our local Alzheimer's Association.

Alzheimer’s is only one form of dementia, and it has many myths and stereotypes associated with it, so it is always best to seek a professional opinion in order to determine the cause of the memory loss. The Alzheimer’s Association also offers helpful information regarding symptoms, research, treatment, and support.

Visit their website for more information: http://www.alz.org/ 

To learn more about Morningside of College Park, call (844) 511-3456.

Written by Kristen Camden

Wednesday, 30 March 2016 17:05

Spring Weather Benefits Seniors

“The air was full of sun and birds,
The fresh air sparkled clearly.
Remembrance wakened in my heart
And I knew I loved her dearly.

The fallows and the leafless trees
And all my spirit tingled.
My earliest thought of love, and Spring's
First puff of perfume mingled.

In my still heart the thoughts awoke,
Came lone by lone together -
Say, birds and Sun and Spring, is Love
A mere affair of weather?”

-Robert Louis Stevenson

Spring is a wonderful time at Morningside of College Park…the trees become green again, flowers start to bloom, and the warmer weather is a welcome change after a chilly winter. With the changing seasons also comes opportunity to explore nature and take advantage of outdoor activities.

There are many benefits to Seniors who spend some time soaking up the sun’s rays, as long as you are mindful of physical limitations and the risks associated with overexposure to the sun. Here are a few benefits:

Vitamin D-
The body needs sunlight in order to produce Vitamin D, which is particularly beneficial to seniors. This is because it is a building block for healthy and strong bones. Not only that, but studies are now showing a direct correlation to Alzheimer’s, cancer, and osteoporosis among those who don’t get enough Vitamin D.

Decreased Stress-
A lot of people are familiar with Winter Depression, and the anxiety that can come along with it. While scientists haven’t firmly concluded what causes this seasonal mood change, they have confirmed that most people who suffer from it feel better after exposure to bright light. Spending time in the sun each day can help lower anxiety and increase happiness. According to Alfred Lewy, MD, a seasonal affective disorder researcher at the Oregon Health & Science University, the best time to take advantage of the sun is first thing in the morning because it helps to reset your circadian clock.

The best way to take advantage of the spring weather and sunshine is by getting out in it! There are so many things to do outside, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Take a morning walk dailyIndianapolis retirement community
  • Spend some time planting in the garden
  • Take up bird watching
  • Take the grandkids to explore Monument Circle or the Cultural Districts
  • Browse through a Farmers Market, like Indianapolis City Market
  • Do some spring cleaning to spruce up your space

However you plan on spending your time in the sun, be cautious and aware of how the sun affects you. To avoid skin damage, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, prepare in advance: wear light clothing and a hat, always apply sunscreen, stay hydrated, and avoid being in direct sunlight during peak hours (10 am-4 pm).

Exerting yourself too much in the sun can lead to cramped muscles, heat rash, swelling of extremities, exhaustion, and heat stroke. While you can protect yourself from the sun’s rays, it is more difficult to stay protected from the heat itself. Morningside of College Park offers a cool respite from the heat. “The lobby is now a great place to mingle with friends and neighbors and get acquainted,” says Jo Cowan, Executive Director.

So whether you are outside soaking up the sun, or inside cooling off for a bit, enjoy the new growth that spring brings to Morningside!

To learn more about Morningside of College Park, call (844) 511-3456.

Written by Kristen Camden

Monday, 29 February 2016 15:35

10 Ideas to Enrich Your Retirement Years

After decades of being in the workforce and having the majority of your time dedicated to your profession, you finally get to control what you do with your time and your energy.

In the beginning, that may be exciting and even a dream come true. What happens when you run out exciting ideas, or start wondering what comes next? retirement living indianapolisIt can be an unsettling realization, especially for the majority of seniors who do not have the luxury of owning a money tree.

Thankfully, money isn’t required for every activity that can enrich your retirement years. Here are a few ideas that can fill your time and fulfill your happiness:

1. Learn a New Hobby

How many times in your life have you wished that you could learn to play the piano, or cook, or learn to craft, but you didn’t have the time? Well, now is the perfect time to revisit those dreams and make them a reality.

2. Get a Part Time Job

If you are physically able to do so, getting a part-time job has multiple advantages. It can give you something to do during the day, ways to interact with and meet new people, and also allow you to have some extra spending money.

3. Volunteer

Another thing that you may not have had time for prior to retirement, is volunteer work. Revisit the organizations that you are passionate about and find out how to become involved as a volunteer. You could even ask family and friends if they need an extra set of hands with daily tasks!

4. Travel

If you have the means, traveling to other countries is an exciting prospect! You don’t have to have money in order to travel though. Take a day to visit nearby towns, museums, attractions, and family.

5. Read & Write

Make a list of every book that you want to read, and even books that you already read and loved. Start with the first and make your way through your list. Writing is also a great way to spend time and energy. Your life is full of memories and exciting adventures…why not get them all on paper?

6. Remodel

If you plan to downsize or finance some of the cost of your home to in order to move into a senior living facility, making improvements to a home can increase the value. It can also be a creative outlet.

7. Serve Your Community

It is a great responsibility to be the voice of others, and running for an elected office or joining a civic club is a wonderful way to serve your community. Or it could be as simple as writing letters to city council members in order to advocate for causes that are important to you.

8. Teach/Mentor

You have a wealth of knowledge and information that you gathered through the years. Why not share your insight with youth, who could benefit from it? This could be in the form of mentoring a youth in need of a role model or writing a blog, which can be as easy as going to Wordpress.com and starting to type.

9. Be Active

Depending on your level of physical ability, there are many ways to enjoy recreational activities. This can be joining a gym, going for a daily walk, or even just playing cards with friends.

Becoming a singer, dancer, painter, or writer may have been a pie-in-the-sky dream when you were a child, because it is difficult to create a career out of these artistic jobs. Why not practice that skill that you dreamed about now, for enjoyment?

10. Get Creative

One thing to remember is to create a budget and stick to it, regardless of if you are spending from your nest egg or earning extra money with a part-time job. Either way, all seniors should enjoy all of the things that life has to offer, now that there is time for it. You earned it!

Written by Kristen Camden 

indianapolis assisted livingWe all remember that nervousness we felt on the first day of school or the first day on a new job, introducing ourselves to people who would become pals. Even with long lives of experience repeating this process over and over, it still involves the butterflies in the stomach of adjusting to change. When a senior begins the process of transitioning from a private home to a shared retirement community, it involves new faces and places to adopt as a new normal.

Maintaining an active, enjoyable social life is key to settling in to this exciting new chapter in a senior’s life. The good news is that MorningSide offers many opportunities to interact with new people. Activities include such things as Painting with Elizabeth on Tuesdays, knitting class on Thursdays, weekly social hour, fabulous meals, and outings to fascinating places like Indiana’s Underground Railroad.

Just because a senior moves to MorningSide, they doesn’t mean they have to lose touch with old friends. In fact, if a friend visits a resident and they decide to move in as well, the resident receives a $1,000 referral fee! Getting to live alongside an existing friend and getting rewarded for it is having your cake and eating it too! “Don’t miss this opportunity to choose your neighbors,” said Executive Director Jo Cowan.

It’s great whenever our friendships endure change, but growth comes from embracing new aspects of life. Experts say the key to overcoming loneliness and making new friendships is to put yourself out there and open your heart to possibilities.

Existing friends and trusted institutions like church are just some of the sources available to make new acquaintances in fresh locations. Sometimes it is a simple matter of striking up a conversation about sports, the old days, old neighborhoods, what it was like growing up, current events, cars, recipes, etc.

Signing up for a class, perhaps trying something we’ve never done before, can give even shy people the nudge needed to interact with others in meaningful ways.

Everyone enjoys some solitude, but having a social life pays off in many ways, both emotional and physical. Experts say socializing lowers blood pressure while remaining active keeps the mind and body healthy. Plus, we can get joy from helping others through tough times and take comfort when they reciprocate – it is important to treat others the way we want to be treated, remaining loyal and listening when others share.

Beyond the interactions inside our building, a senior can also use technology to make new friendships, communicating with old friends and family while making new connections on social networks like Facebook. There is a certain satisfaction in having others wish us a happy birthday or send holiday greetings.

MorningSide is just one of the ways seniors can make new friends in senior living.

Written by Steven Stiefel

Copyright: diego_cervo / 123RF Stock Photo

Many seniors feel apprehensive about getting online, worrying that they won’t have the tech skills to successfully take advantage of computer resources. According to FastCompany, a neuroscientist at UCLA found that when he observed “12 tech-savvy and 12 tech-ignorant people use search engines while inside an MRI machine”the result was“more neural activity in the noggins of tech-savvy users.”Not only does the Internet open you up to a host of new possibilities, the process of learning something new can have a positive effect on your brain—great news for those who are interested in staying in tip top mental shape.

There are host of other benefits to making use of the Internet. It’s easier than ever to connect with others around the world in just a few clicks or a few keystrokes, from family a few states away to new pen pals as far away as Japan or Norway. Even ten or fifteen years ago, the majority of adults weren’t online. Now 87% of American adults regularly use the Internet, logging on to converse over email and social networking sites, look up information using search engines like Google and Yahoo, keep up with the news and their favorite TV programs, or connect with other people who have common interests, like NASCAR, baseball, sewing, chess, and more.

Of course, the flip side to how much the internet brings us together is that it can also connect you to bad people who might want to take advantage of you. While it’s easier than ever to reach out to friends and family, it’s just as easy for criminals to reach out to you in hopes of getting money, your personal information, or even steal your identity. However, there are some simple steps you can take to keep cyber criminals at bay.

Email With Care

First and foremost, you should treat your email with the same care you would your mail or postoffice box. Just as you get unwanted junk letters in real life, you may get spam messages in your email box from strangers. Some scams that online criminals run online are similar to those run through the mail or on the phone—telling you that you’ve won a lottery prize, for example, or posing as a fake charity. Just as you’d be cautious under other circumstances about sending money to strangers or unverified causes or potentially illegitimate businesses, you should be even more so online.

Pick an email program with a strong spam filter like Microsoft Outlook or Google Mail—this will protect you from many inappropriate messages and reduce the number you need to deal with yourself. When you set up your email account, create a strong password that will be hard for anyone else to guess or crack. For example, “123456”is a common password that would be easy for a hacker to figure out because so many people use it. The same for things like your children or grandchildren’s names, “password”or “PW”or even “letmein.”You should use a mixture of symbols, numbers, and both upper and lower case numbers to ensure you have a strong password.

Trust Your Inner Skeptic

Criminals often create stories that seem so wild you couldn’t possibly make them up. People have fallen for all sorts of tall tales, from Nigerian princes trying to find their way home to messages from the supposed Sheriff’s office telling them a missing person’s report has been filed on the recipient’s behalf. Other common tricks include seemingly innocent, minor requests, like trying to find a good time to call you, or simply asking if you’re ok. If you don’t know who sent the email, simply give them a call or check in personally to find out if they originated the conversation. It takes some of the convenience out of staying in touch, but it’s totally worth it to avoid giving scam artists even the slightest details to go on. Never download a file attached to an email if you don’t know who it’s from. The file could be a computer virus that will make your device run slower or will find personal information like credit card or insurance account numbers and send it to the scammer.

A Little Common Sense Goes a Long Way

You never know who’s looking when you post online, and what you say can stick around a lot longer than you think. Friends of friends might see what you post on social media, private details linger on message boards, and you can’t take back what you write. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. So be especially guarded about sharing anything you wouldn’t write down and hand to stranger, or the kind of information you run through a shredder at the end of the month.

Enjoy a Wider World

Despite digital dangers, the Internet has a wealth of opportunities to stay connected and involved in your community and interests no matter your age. Don’t feel intimidated by the possibility of living an online life, instead embrace a new skill, and take proper precautions so you can surf the web with confidence. As with any new skill, it may take time to feel as comfortable and confident as you do in real life, but soon you’ll have street smarts for the World Wide Web!

Written by Meghan O'Dea

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