Protect Yourself Against Scams

February 22, 2017

Scammers use a combination of psychological tricks and technology to defraud people of all ages into sending money or revealing compromising personal information; however, older adults can be especially vulnerable to crooks who play upon the good will, naivety or trusting nature of their victims. Follow these tips to protect you and your loved ones against scams.

Never give account or credit card information to anyone who initiates contact with you by phone or email. Scammers will always have a “good” reason as to why you should give them what they ask. Stay safe by only providing such information or payments to trusted businesses or individuals when you are the one who has reached out to them.

Don’t wire money or send cash via mail, FedEx or UPS. Reputable businesses and individuals always accept other, trackable methods of remote payment such as credit cards, checks or online payments.

Don’t send money to unfamiliar charities. Crooks take advantage of people’s willingness to help others by pretending to be raising money for a good cause when they are really soliciting money for their own nefarious purposes. Only give money directly to trusted charities with whom you have initiated contact. Don’t respond to requests from unknown individuals who may be pretending to represent a charity.

Delete unsolicited emails from unfamiliar senders whom you do not know before you open them. If you do accidently open questionable emails, never click on attachments or links in them. Likewise, don’t click on links or offers in pop-up ads while browsing the web. The goal is to keep you from inadvertently downloading viruses or other malware designed to steal your personal information.

Be skeptical about offers for money or free products and services. Scammers may bait you with promises of free products and services or easy ways to make money. Stay away from “deals” that require you to sign up and spend money so that you can get something “free,” make more money or be eligible for “refunds.”

When in doubt, talk to a trusted friend or family member. Don’t send money or provide personal details until you have ascertained the validity of requests for them. VMRC staff are available to help residents verify the legitimacy of any such requests.

If you discover that you have fallen victim to a scam, ask for help. Don’t be ashamed. Scams happen, and people make mistakes and fall for them. Some scammers will try to scare you into continuing your relationship with them by threatening you or your family, but scammers have less power than you might think. Contact trusted friends, family members or law enforcement officials as soon as you believe that you are the victim of a scam. They may not be able to get lost money back, but they can keep you from losing more money.

Think you might be onto a scam? Check out the Federal Trade Commission for an easy-to-reference list of currently popular scams: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts.

Keep Your Brain Healthy

February 5, 2017

Half of Americans are affected by cognitive impairment by the time they reach their mid-80s according to Dr. Neal Barnard in his Technology Entertainment and Design (TED) talk last fall. And while genetics do play a significant role, you can make better choices to positively influence your chances of aging well. Read on for our tips about how to keep your brain healthy from a recent VMRC Wellness Center educational program.

Eat healthy

Chose a diet emphasizing fruits, grains, vegetables, legumes and proteins. Eating foods high in vitamin E, such as spinach, mango and nuts, has been shown to cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in half. Seek out foods rich in different colors: blueberries, grapes and other purple-colored foods, for example, are famously high in healthy antioxidants.

Avoid unhealthy, saturated fats such as bacon and dairy products as well as trans fats found in donuts, pastries and processed snack foods; this will cut your risk of memory problems by 80%.

Exercise

Regular exercise helps stop and even reduce brain shrinkage that inevitably comes with age. Target walking 40 minutes three times per week. It’s ok if you’re not up for that much yet; start with increments of 10 minutes and add another five minutes at a time each week or every few weeks. You’ll build stamina faster than you think with consistent, intentional movement.

Be grateful

Appreciate each day and what it has to offer as it happens. Many cultures famous for human longevity incorporate a conscious practice of mindfulness. It can be as simple as taking time to slow down and observe what is around you. For instance, watch the clouds, enjoy the colors of your surroundings, savor your food or learn the stories of the people around you.

Help your brain regenerate

Neurogenesis is the process of producing neurons in the region of the brain known as the hippocampus. It happens throughout our life and is an important part of a well functioning, healthy brain. As we age, neurogenesis naturally declines, but you can influence it. Learning, getting plenty of sleep and having sex are all factors that increase neurogenesis, but you should reduce stress and alcohol as both negatively impact neurogenesis.

Enjoy the Arts at VMRC

January 17, 2017

Whether you enjoy making art or experiencing art made by others, VMRC offers opportunities for art lovers through to its partnerships with local artists and James Madison University.

Residents and the public are invited to enjoy several different exhibits at the Park Gables Gallery throughout the year. The gallery features works of art by artists who have been invited to exhibit. Many of the featured artists have ties to the Shenandoah Valley and produce art especially relevant to Harrisonburg-area residents.

“Because the Park Gables Gallery space is so inviting, we are able to attract a diverse assortment of artists as well as audiences from both on and off campus,” said VMRC Arts and Education Program Manager Lolly Miller. “Most artists will tell you that they create for other people to see. When you have a gallery space like Park Gables, an artist’s work actually gets seen and admired and sometimes even purchased.”

The Seven Pillars of Mennonite Theology is the next exhibit coming to Park Gables starting on Thursday, January 19. Kathryn Fenton, EMU Master of Arts in Religion graduate, presents her paintings depicting Mennonite theology. The abstract pieces represent the Trinity, the dual nature of Christ, scripture, salvation, the sacraments, discipleship and nonviolence. The exhibit, which is open to the public, runs through Saturday, February 11.

Art with JMU

Back by popular demand, the Art with JMU program returns to campus for the spring semester of 2017. VMRC residents enjoy the opportunity to do an art project under the direction of JMU Art Education students.

“It’s a fun way to explore your creative side - no prior experience is necessary,” said Lolly. “Residents first help decide the semester’s projects and then get to enjoy the expertise shared by the JMU students, who simultaneously gain real world experience teaching residents.”

The Spring 2017 Art with JMU program kicks off in the Strite Auditorium on Monday, January 23 with a Meet and Greet event, during which the semester’s art projects will be chosen. The art sessions then commence on Monday, January 30 and will be held weekly in the Crestwood Activity Room.

Past projects have involved water colors, clay and mobiles made out of recycled products.

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