Three common signs of financial scams

According to the National Council on Aging, scams targeting seniors are so prolific that they’re now considered “the crime of the 21st century.” From Medicare fraud and investment schemes to counterfeit prescription drugs and funeral shakedowns, senior citizens are seen as easy marks for financial abuse. Help protect yourself and your nest egg by recognizing these three common signs of deception:

You’re given the hard sell. Listen for key phrases such as “little to no risk of loss” or “guaranteed rates of return.” If the salesperson indicates a very small window during which you can make a decision, that’s another red flag. Someone offering a legitimate financial opportunity should have no problem with you taking time to conduct additional research and ask questions so that you fully understand the investment being pitched.

You’re asked to provide personal information over the phone. Seniors are twice as likely to make purchases via telephone, making fake telemarketing calls one of the most frequent schemes. Oftentimes, these thieves impersonate officials from your bank or a government entity in order to convince you to disclose account information. Before you do anything, ask for written material about the offer and check out unfamiliar companies with the Better Business Bureau. Remember that legitimate institutions rarely ask for such information over the phone.

Your gut instinct says something’s wrong. Remember the expression, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is”? If something doesn’t sound or feel right, don’t be afraid to trust your instincts. You might think you’re being rude by saying “no” or even hanging up the telephone, but don’t let these con artists exploit your trusting nature.

Nearly 5 million older Americans lose roughly $3 billion each year to financial abuse. If you think you’re being targeted with a fraudulent offer, notify your local police or the FBI. Further, consider talking with a professional financial advisor – one legally required to put your best interests first – for additional help protecting your hard-earned savings.

Ten painless ways to lose weight

From counting calories to eating nothing but frozen meals, the weight-loss industry is full of tips and tricks to help dieters slim down. Sometimes, though, you just want to drop a few pounds without having to do any math or microwave your lunch and dinner. For a break from more complicated regimens, try these easy weight-loss tips:

Eat on smaller plates. An experiment by Cornell University and the Georgia Institute of Technology showed that eating on a 10-inch plate (versus a 12-inch) resulted in a 22-percent reduction in calories.

Indulge your inner child. Playing video games can help reduce food cravings, according to research in the journal Appetite.

Drink water before meals. Dieters who down 17 ounces of H2O before meals lose up to 44 percent more weight.

Have a daily cup of java. The caffeinated beverage can help boost metabolism and increase fat burning.

Enjoy spicy foods. Such edibles contain capsaicin, a compound that can reduce your appetite.

Cook at home whenever possible. Studies from Cornell University have shown that people unconsciously eat more in social situations. (Bonus tip: If you do eat out, ask for a to-go container and immediately wrap up half of your dish.)

Get some zzz’s. Poor sleep is linked to a 55-percent increased risk of obesity in adults.

Eat more protein. Consume at least 25 percent of your daily calories in protein – it’ll help reduce a penchant for late-night snacking.

Quit drinking diet soda. Research at the University of Texas at Austin found that people who drank two or more diet sodas a day saw a whopping 500-percent increase in waist circumference.

Keep fruit close by. Low in calories and high in fiber, fruits (and veggies!) help you feel fuller longer. People who eat more fruits and veggies usually weigh less, too.

What other painless weight-loss tips do you swear by? Connect with us on social media and let us know!

The best mobile apps for weight loss

While it’s true there are no shortcuts to achieving a healthy weight, a little help can make the difference between achieving your weight-loss goal and coming up a little short. And in today’s fast-paced world, is there a better source of support than the smartphone that’s already constantly by your side?

Whether you’re a foodie, fitness fanatic or just someone wanting to have fun with their workouts, look no further than these three mobile apps for weight loss:

MyFitnessPal. This free app (available on Apple only) gives you on-the-go access to your account, allowing you to track your food and exercise from anywhere. Entries made to the app are synched with the website – and vice versa – so you can easily log your lunch with colleagues in real time, versus remembering to track it later. In addition, its social features means you’re never far away from a pep talk when that 2 p.m. fatigue sets in and you’re desperately considering a trip to the vending machine.

Fooducate. This self-proclaimed “diet toolbox” helps you make smart food choices beyond just calorie counts. By assigning each food in its database a grade from A to D, Lose It! helps you quickly identify foods with optimum nutrition – while avoiding those containing less-than-desirable ingredients like artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup. The free app is available for both Apple and Android.

7-Minute Workout. Fitness fans crunched for time will love this app (free on both Apple and Android) that provides short, specific workouts requiring just a wall, chair and floor space. There’s no equipment or fancy footwork needed, as the app features old-school calisthenics like jumping jacks and push-ups. With visual cues for completing each exercise correctly, there’s no excuse to let your fitness slide.

Bonus app: Zombies, Run! Getting bored of your usual jogs and walks? Jazz up your routine with this fun app that turns your run-of-the-mill workout into a fight for survival. Increase your speed to avoid getting caught by zombies and collect supplies along the way to help fortify your safe haven during this virtual zombie apocalypse. Luckily, the fallout is a lot less gruesome than what fans of “The Walking Dead” witness! (Available on Apple and Android)

What’s your favorite weight-loss app? Connect with us on social media and let us know!

Three benefits of social media for seniors

As anyone who’s gotten help from a grandchild to navigate a smartphone or laptop can attest, seniors and technology don’t always go together easily. From skepticism about its benefits to physical challenges and other difficulties during use, older Americans have historically been late to the technology game.

However, the tide seems to be turning. In particular, data released by the Pew Research Center in 2014 revealed that 27 percent of older adults were regular users of social networking sites such as Facebook. Further, those individuals were shown to socialize more frequently with others, whether online, in person or over the phone.

Haven’t yet taken the plunge into social media use? Check out these other advantages to getting connected in the digital space:

  • You could be healthier. According to a 2013 study in Computers in Human Behavior, seniors who play games on social media sites reported fewer instances of depression.
  • You could more easily keep in touch with those you love. From finding childhood pals or staying up-to-date with your grandson during his first year of college, social media makes connecting with family and friends practically effortless.
  • You could experience a cognitive boost. One study by a University of Arizona graduate student showed that older adults performed roughly 25 percent better on memory tasks after learning to use Facebook.

Take advantage of technology teaching tools available in your area and get to connecting!

The best mobile apps for weight loss

While it’s true there are no shortcuts to achieving a healthy weight, a little help can make the difference between achieving your weight-loss goal and coming up a little short. And in today’s fast-paced world, is there a better source of support than the smartphone that’s already constantly by your side?

Service: Is it in you?

As human beings, we’re wired to want good healthy relationships with other people. Have you ever noticed that you end up feeling good when you help someone? Random acts of kindness are great, but have you ever considered making a regular commitment to service?