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For recipients of Medicare benefits, the cost of a hospital stay and any subsequent stay in a nursing facility may depend in large part on whether or not the patient was “admitted” to the hospital as an inpatient, or is on observation status as an outpatient. The distinction is crucial, and vexing for patients and doctors alike. After a patient has spent the night in a hospital bed, been given a gown and wrist bracelet, been seen by doctors and nurses, and been fed and washed by aides, he might reasonably be perplexed by the idea that there is any question about whether he has been “admitted” to the hospital…

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Older Americans are often the victims of fraud, whether through fake sweepstakes offers, phony investments or Social Security fraud. Scammers may target older people because they are perceived to be more trusting, or because they are more likely to be available for telephone calls during the day. Alzheimer’s patients are particularly vulnerable, as they may become confused easily. Boredom and loneliness also play a large role in increasing seniors’ vulnerability.

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