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April 20, 2017

How Older Adults Can Spot and Stop Health Scams

This won’t really work. It’s actually just a combination of worthless powder and maybe some vitamins.

You’ll never see this statement emblazoned on bottles of health supplements or skin care creams. Whether you’ve got arthritis, high blood pressure, want to lose a little weight or achieve healthier skin, you’ve likely scanned the shelves of a health food store looking for an alternative or additional solution to treat what ails you.

And as you’ve considered your options, you’ve likely seen the phrases “alternative to prescriptions” or “revolutionary breakthrough” on a few bottles or boxes claiming to be a miracle cure. These kinds of products and claims are what as known as health scams, and they’re just as dangerous — possibly even more — than financial scams.

How to Spot a Health Scam

Not only do health scams waste your money, they can also cause serious injury and even kill you, according to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). The majority of health scams make claims relating to curing or treating:

  • Weight loss
  • Sexual performance
  • Memory loss
  • Diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s or arthritis

Beware of products that are:

A one-stop shop. Products that claim to cure or treat a variety of diseases or conditions should be a red flag. For example, one health firm marketed a product claiming it could treat or cure “senile dementia, brain atrophy, atherosclerosis, kidney dysfunction, gangrene, depression, osteoarthritis, dysuria, and lung, cervical and prostate cancer.”

Use vague, personal testimonials. Non-specific testimonials like “It cured my arthritis” or “My lung tumors were cured” are easy to fabricate and can’t be verified.

A quick-fix or miracle cure. You’ve probably seen those products that claim to let you “lose 30 pounds in 30 days,” but the truth is few conditions can be treated quickly. According to the FDA, alarm bells should sound if you hear or see the claims:

  • New discovery
  • Scientific breakthrough
  • Secret ingredient

Think about it, if a real cure for cancer or Alzheimer’s was discovered it would be widely reported and used by health professionals and not hidden in an obscure online store or next to bottles of vitamins at the grocery store.

All-natural. Just because a product contains natural ingredients doesn’t make it any safer. Natural products like poisonous mushrooms can kill you. Not only that, the FDA has found that some products claiming to be all-natural actually contain prescription drug ingredients or other untested ingredients.

Health scammers target people who are in pain or scared. Remember, before buying a product that makes any of the above claims, talk to your doctor or pharmacist for advice. In addition, you can sign up for email alerts from the FDA on fraudulent health products.Avoid Senior Scams

Healthy aging is hard on your own. Kendal at Home can help you age well and enjoy your retirement.

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