Working Together to Protect Seniors from Abuse

In the pursuit of safeguarding elderly and at-risk individuals in Rockdale County (GA), the PEARL Program (Protecting our Elderly and At-Risk with Resources for better Living) has emerged as a beacon of hope and support.

PEARL employs a multi-disciplinary team approach to address the critical and growing issue of elder abuse.

The program is dedicated to these 5 areas of focus.

1. Establishing Definitive Program Protocols: By creating clear and effective protocols, the PEARL Program ensures a systematic and organized approach to addressing cases of elder abuse.

2. Identifying Special Program Needs: Regular case reviews enable the team to identify unique program requirements, ensuring that the elderly and at-risk individuals receive the specialized care and assistance they need.

3. Enhancing Education and Training: The team continually works to improve the knowledge and skills of its members and associates. This commitment to ongoing education guarantees that the PEARL Program remains at the forefront of elder abuse prevention and intervention.

4. Assisting Prosecutors in Achieving Convictions: The PEARL Program supports prosecutors in their pursuit of justice by providing valuable insights and evidence necessary for successful convictions against perpetrators of elder abuse.

5. Preserving Protective Processes: The program’s mission is to uphold and preserve the protective processes designed to prevent elder abuse, creating a safer environment for seniors and at-risk individuals in Rockdale County.

Prompt reporting of alleged abuse is a cornerstone of the PEARL Program’s efforts. This swift response ensures that elderly and at-risk adults are promptly removed from abusive situations and offered resources to aid in their recovery. Moreover, abusers and perpetrators are held accountable, both criminally and civilly, whenever their actions warrant.

The PEARL Program has been recognized as one of only three multi-disciplinary teams in the State of Georgia, an acknowledgment highlighting the program’s effectiveness in addressing elder abuse and ensuring the well-being of the area’s elderly and at-risk adults.

Tips for Preparing Your Home for Storm Season

Preparing your home for storm season in Georgia is essential to protect your property and keep your family safe. We’re prone to weather-related hazards such as tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and flash flooding.

Here’s a helpful guide on how to prepare your home for storm season:

1. Your Family Emergency Plan
Create an emergency plan that includes a designated meeting place, contact information for family members, and an evacuation plan if necessary.

2. Assemble an Emergency Kit
Prepare an emergency kit with essential supplies, including non-perishable food, water, flashlights, batteries, a first-aid kit, blankets, and important documents. Keep the kit in an easy to access location.

3. Secure Outdoor Items
Store or secure outdoor furniture, grills, table umbrellas and other loose items that strong winds could turn into projectiles. Trim trees and branches to minimize the risk of falling limbs during storms.

4. Check Your Roof and Gutters
Inspect your roof for damaged or missing shingles and repair them. Clean out gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage and prevent water damage.

5. Weatherproof Doors and Windows
Refresh weatherproofing to ensure it will keep the cold out.

6. Ensure Proper Drainage
Check your property’s drainage systems, including storm drains and sump pumps, and clear any blockages. Install gutter extensions to direct rainwater away from your foundation.

7. Waterproof Your Basement
If you have a basement, consider waterproofing it to prevent flooding during heavy rainfall. Some homeowners use a battery-operated sump pump as a backup.

8. Install a Generator
Consider installing a backup generator to ensure you have power during extended outages. Test the generator regularly and keep an adequate supply of fuel.

9. Secure Important Documents
Safeguard important documents like insurance policies, identification, and property deeds in waterproof containers or digitally store them in the cloud. Create digital copies of vital documents and store them securely.

10. Reinforce Garage Doors
Strengthen your garage doors to prevent them from buckling during strong winds. You can look into a garage door bracing system.

11. Stock Up on Supplies
Maintain a supply of non-perishable food, bottled water, and other essentials to sustain your family for several days. Keep a battery-operated or hand-crank weather radio for updates.

12. Keep Emergency Contacts Handy
Have a list of emergency contacts, including local authorities, utility companies, and neighbors, readily accessible.

13. Invest in Flood Insurance
Depending on your location, consider purchasing flood insurance to protect against water damage, as standard homeowner’s insurance often doesn’t cover floods.

14. Stay Informed
Stay informed about weather forecasts and warnings from trusted sources such as the National Weather Service. Sign up for emergency alerts from local authorities or media outlets.

15. Evacuation Plan
If you live in a flood-prone area or a designated evacuation zone, have a plan for evacuation, including knowing the nearest shelters and routes to safety.

Preparing your home for storm season in Georgia requires foresight and planning. Preparation helps protect you and your property. Stay vigilant, stay safe, and be ready to respond effectively to whatever Mother Nature sends your way.

Preparing Your Home for the New Year

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to take stock of your home and ensure that everything is in order for the coming year. Here’s a homeowner’s checklist to help you wrap up the year on a high note and start the new year with peace of mind.

  1. Review Mortgage and Insurance Policies
    Check your mortgage statement for any discrepancies or changes in interest rates. Review your homeowner’s insurance policy to make sure it adequately covers your property and possessions.
  2. Evaluate Energy Efficiency
    Consider scheduling an energy audit to identify areas where you can improve energy efficiency. Replace furnace filters and clean out air ducts to ensure your heating system runs efficiently during the winter.
  3. Perform a Safety Check
    Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries as needed. Check fire extinguishers to ensure they are in good working condition. Inspect your home for potential fire hazards, such as faulty wiring or overloaded electrical outlets.
  4. Winterize Your Home
    Insulate doors and windows with weatherstripping to keep warm air in and cold air out. Drain and disconnect garden hoses and shut off exterior faucets to prevent freezing. Have your chimney cleaned and inspected if you have a fireplace.
  5. Check for Water Leaks
    Inspect faucets, toilets, and pipes for any leaks. Address them promptly to prevent water damage. Consider insulating exposed pipes to prevent freezing in colder climates.
  6. Clean and Declutter
    Go through each room and declutter by donating or disposing of items you no longer need. Deep clean carpets, upholstery, and drapes. Vacuum refrigerator coils to improve energy efficiency.
  7. Update Home Security
    Test your home security system, including doorbell cameras and motion sensors. Update or change door locks and security codes if necessary.
  8. Prepare for Tax Season
    Organize and file any home-related documents, such as receipts for home improvements or property tax statements. Consult with a tax professional about potential deductions related to homeownership.
  9. Review Home Maintenance Records
    Go through your home maintenance records to ensure you’re up to date on routine tasks like HVAC servicing, roof inspections, and gutter cleaning.
  10. Plan for 2024
    Set home improvement goals and create a budget for projects you’d like to tackle in the coming year. Consider scheduling a professional home inspection to identify any potential issues before they become costly problems.
  11. Save for Future Repairs
    Start or contribute to an emergency fund specifically for home repairs and maintenance.
  12. Reflect on Homeownership Goals
    Reflect on your homeownership goals and consider consulting with a real estate agent to discuss your long-term real estate plans.

By completing this end-of-year checklist, you’ll be well-prepared to welcome the new year with a well-maintained and efficient home. It’s a great way to ensure that your investment continues to provide comfort and security for you and your family. Here’s to a happy and prosperous new year in your beloved home!

Unmasking Elder Abuse: A PEARL of Protection

Here in Georgia, Rockdale County’s PEARL Program is a commitment to protect seniors and disabled adults from abuse. Elder abuse is a harrowing reality that plagues our society. It compromises the safety and well-being of some of our most vulnerable citizens—our seniors.

The term “elder abuse” encompasses five disturbing subtypes of mistreatment, each one causing untold suffering. Together with federal, state, and local partners, the PEARL Program (Protecting our Elderly and At-Risk with Resources for better Living) is unwavering in its commitment to combat these forms of abuse, shielding the elderly and at-risk individuals in the county.

5 Types of Elder Abuse

1. Physical Abuse: This includes visible signs of harm, such as bruises, black eyes, welts, lacerations, or rope marks, as well as more serious injuries like bone fractures, broken bones, or skull fractures. Open wounds, cuts, punctures, and untreated injuries in various stages of healing are also indicators of physical abuse.

2. Financial Fraud, Scams, and Exploitation: Elder financial abuse takes various forms, including scams, fraud, or exploitation. Seniors are often targeted for their financial assets, making them vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals seeking to exploit their savings or property.

3. Caregiver Neglect and Abandonment: Neglect and abandonment can manifest as a lack of proper care, hygiene, or medical attention. Signs may include malnutrition, untreated health conditions, or the caregiver’s refusal to allow visitors to see the elder alone.

4. Psychological and Emotional Abuse: Psychological abuse is less visible but equally damaging. Elders experiencing psychological abuse may exhibit sudden changes in behavior, anxiety, or withdrawal due to verbal or emotional mistreatment.

5. Sexual Abuse: This form of abuse encompasses any non-consensual sexual activity or exploitation involving an elderly or at-risk individual.

The PEARL Program uses a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to ensure that seniors and at-risk adults are able to live free from harm and abuse. 

If you know of a case of abuse of an elderly or at-risk adult, report the abuse at this link:   Report Elder Abuse | Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services.

Property Tax Scams to Watch Out For

Elder Phone Scam And Fraud Using Credit Card

One of my top priorities is to help you safeguard your most valuable asset: your home. Property tax scams are on the rise, targeting unsuspecting homeowners with increasingly sophisticated schemes.

Here are 6 property tax scams that are out there and ideas of ways to protect yourself and your property.

1. The “Official” Letter Scam:

Scam Alert: Scammers often send homeowners official-looking letters or emails that appear to be from government agencies or tax authorities. These letters claim that your property taxes are past due and threaten severe consequences, such as foreclosure, if you don’t pay immediately.

Protection Tip: Contact your local tax assessor’s office directly using publicly available contact information to confirm any outstanding taxes.

2. Overpriced Property Tax Services:

Scam Alert: A company may promise to lower your property tax bill for a fee. They may say they have “inside knowledge” or a special relationship with tax authorities, but their services are often overpriced or even fraudulent.

Protection Tip: Research the company thoroughly, check for reviews, and consult with a trusted financial advisor or attorney before making any payments.

3. Phony “Tax Relief” Companies:

Scam Alert: Fraudulent companies may present themselves as tax relief organizations, promising to help homeowners reduce their property tax burdens through loopholes or tax evasion schemes.

Protection Tip: Always work with reputable professionals when seeking legitimate tax advice or assistance.

4. Fake Property Tax Assessors:

Scam Alert: Some individuals may pose as property tax assessors, offering to reassess your property at a lower value for a fee. These assessments are often unreliable and can lead to legal trouble.

Protection Tip: Verify the credentials of anyone who claims to be a tax assessor and check their background. Legitimate assessors should have proper licensing and be affiliated with reputable organizations.

5. Unsolicited Door-to-Door Offers:

Scam Alert: Be cautious of someone who shows up at your door claiming to be tax assessors or offering to lower your property tax.

Protection Tip: Decline their services and ask for identification and contact information.

6. Wire Transfer Requests:

Scam Alert: Scammers may request payment via wire transfer, prepaid cards, or cryptocurrency, making it difficult to trace the money once it’s sent.

Protection Tip: Always use secure and traceable payment methods. Government agencies will typically provide official channels for payment, such as checks or online payment systems.

Property tax scams can be financially devastating and emotionally distressing. The best defense against these scams is to stay informed and vigilant. Verify the legitimacy of any communications or offers related to your property taxes, and consult with trusted professionals when in doubt. Remember that legitimate government agencies will never demand immediate payment through unsolicited letters or phone calls.

If you suspect that you’ve been targeted by a property tax scam or have any concerns about your property taxes, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’m here to help you protect your home and your financial well-being.

Safeguarding your home is not just about buying the right property; it’s also about protecting it from potential threats.

10 Ways to Lower Property Taxes

At Atlanta Seniors Real Estate, we understand that managing property-related expenses is essential. One significant expense you may want to reduce is your property tax bill.

Property taxes are a necessary part of homeownership, but there are some easy ways to find tax relief. Here are ten effective strategies to help you save tax dollars.

1. Know Your Property’s Value: Review your property assessment carefully to ensure it’s accurate. If you find discrepancies, consider filing an appeal with your local tax assessor’s office.

2. Homestead Exemption: A homestead exemption can significantly reduce your property tax burden. Check with your local tax authority to see if you qualify and how to apply.

3. Explore Property Tax Relief Programs: Some jurisdictions offer property tax relief programs for eligible homeowners, particularly seniors, veterans, and low-income individuals.

4. Consider Renovations Wisely: Before undertaking major renovations, consider how they may impact your property tax assessment. Some improvements can increase your property’s value, leading to higher taxes.

5. Challenge Property Assessment: If you believe your property’s assessed value is too high, consider appealing it.

6. Look for Errors in Property Records: Ensure that all details about your property, such as square footage, number of bedrooms, and other key features, are accurate so you don’t have an overassessment.

7. Explore Tax Deferral Programs: Tax deferral programs allow you to postpone property tax payments until a future date, such as when you sell your property, or it passes to your heirs. It may not lower your tax bill but it can provide financial flexibility.

8. Stay Informed About Tax Changes: Property tax laws and rates can change, so stay informed about local tax developments.

9. Be Mindful of Local Politics: Understand the positions of local candidates and their proposed policies regarding property taxes when voting.

10. Invest in Energy Efficiency: Improving your home’s energy efficiency not only reduces utility bills but can also qualify you for tax credits or exemptions in some areas.

Cities and communities have unique rules and opportunities, so research your area’s regulations and, if you have questions, speak with a tax professional. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help you make the most informed decisions about your real estate investments.

*Property taxes in Georgia are due December 20th.

5 Valuable Benefits for Veteran Homeowners

Today, as we mark Veterans/Remembrance Day, it’s a perfect time to share some of the benefits available to our military veteran homeowners in Georgia. Here are 5 veteran benefits that I often promote to clients who are current homeowners or are looking to either purchase or sell a home.

1. VA Home Loans
One of the most significant advantages for veterans looking to purchase a home is the availability of VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) home loans. VA loans are designed to make homeownership more accessible to veterans by offering competitive interest rates, flexible credit requirements, and, in many cases, no down payment requirements.

2. Property Tax Exemptions
Georgia offers property tax exemptions to disabled veterans and surviving spouses of deceased veterans. Disabled veterans are eligible for property tax benefits or an exemption — depending on the service-connected disability rating.

3. Homebuyer Education & Financial Counseling
Organizations like the Georgia Department of Veterans Service offer homebuyer education and financial counseling services to help veterans navigate the homebuying process successfully.

4. Housing Assistance Programs
Georgia provides housing assistance programs to veterans including rental assistance, transitional housing, and supportive services for veterans experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

5. Veteran Job Opportunities
Beyond housing benefits, Georgia offers job placement and training programs to assist veterans in finding meaningful employment opportunities.

I encourage you to explore benefits and reach out to organizations and professionals who can assist you with your real estate needs. Being a military spouse, I have a unique understanding of what’s available to our veterans so reach out with any questions you may have.

To our veterans, thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and your dedication to our nation.

How seniors can find a new sense of purpose.

Working with seniors every day, I know that the happiest of my clients are those with a real sense of purpose. Maybe it’s helping family members or neighbors, spending time at a senior center, or doing volunteer work.

Volunteering is a particularly great idea especially when you move into a new area as it’s a great way to meet people and find new purpose. But how do you actually find local volunteer gigs?

Here are 15 tips to help you identify an opportunity that will be a good fit.

  1. Identify Interests and Skills: Assess your interests, skills, and passions. This will help narrow down the types of volunteer work you’ll enjoy. For example, if you love working with animals, a local animal shelter might be a great fit.
  2. Consider Physical Abilities: Take into account any physical limitations or health concerns you have. Choose volunteer opportunities that align with your abilities to ensure a positive experience.
  3. Local Community Centers and Senior Centers: Check with local community centers, senior centers, and retirement communities. These places often have information about local volunteer opportunities that are senior-friendly.
  4. Online Volunteer Databases: There are various online platforms and databases dedicated to connecting volunteers with opportunities. Websites like,, and Senior Corps provide listings of volunteer opportunities based on location and interests.
  5. Nonprofit Organizations: Many nonprofit organizations are in constant need of volunteers. Reach out to organizations that align with the senior’s interests. Examples could include food banks, hospitals, schools, libraries, museums, and environmental groups.
  6. Churches and Religious Organizations: Religious institutions often organize community service projects. Check with local churches, synagogues, mosques, or temples for volunteer opportunities.
  7. Local Schools: Schools often welcome senior volunteers to help with tutoring, mentoring, or assisting teachers in classrooms.
  8. Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities: Some seniors might enjoy volunteering at hospitals or healthcare facilities, providing comfort to patients or helping with administrative tasks.
  9. Cultural and Arts Organizations: Museums, theaters, and art galleries sometimes have opportunities for seniors to volunteer as docents, tour guides, or event assistants.
  10. Environmental Groups: If you have an interest in the environment, you might enjoy volunteering for park clean-ups, tree planting, or community gardening projects.
  11. Virtual Volunteering: Consider virtual volunteering opportunities to contribute from the comfort of your home. This could include tasks like online tutoring, writing, or social media management for nonprofits.
  12. Local Government: Check with local government offices for potential volunteer roles, such as assisting with voter registration drives, serving on advisory committees, or helping with community events.
  13. Senior-Specific Organizations: Look for organizations specifically tailored to senior citizens, as they might offer unique volunteer opportunities that cater to their age group.
  14. Networking and Recommendations: Reach out to friends, family members, or acquaintances who might have suggestions for volunteer opportunities or know of organizations seeking senior volunteers.
  15. Contacting Organizations: Once you’ve identified potential opportunities, contact the organizations to inquire about their volunteer programs. Discuss your interests, availability, and any specific requirements they may have.

Volunteering should be an enjoyable experience, so find an opportunity that aligns with your interests and abilities.

How do you know when it’s time to downsize and relocate?

Part of being a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) is taking the time to truly understand a family’s needs before putting a plan in place. It’s so much more than just buying or selling a home – it’s considering whether the time is right to downsize and relocate to a smaller space. This process involves considering various factors related to a senior’s physical, emotional, and financial well-being.

Here are 12 signs and considerations to help determine if it’s time to downsize that I often share with my clients:

  1. Physical Ability: If daily tasks become challenging due to mobility issues, health concerns, or the size of their current home, downsizing to a more manageable space might be beneficial.
  2. Maintenance and Upkeep: If the current home requires a lot of maintenance and upkeep that is becoming burdensome, downsizing to a smaller place with lower maintenance demands can be a wise choice.
  3. Financial Considerations: Evaluate if the cost of maintaining the current home (property taxes, utilities, repairs) is straining finances. Downsizing can help reduce monthly expenses.
  4. Emotional Well-being: If the senior is feeling isolated or overwhelmed in a large house, moving to a smaller, more social environment (such as a retirement community) could improve their emotional well-being.
  5. Safety Concerns: If the current home poses safety hazards (stairs, slippery floors, difficult-to-navigate spaces), moving to a safer, more accessible living situation might be necessary.
  6. Proximity to Family and Medical Care: Consider the proximity to family members, medical facilities, and services. Moving closer to these resources can provide peace of mind.
  7. Unused Space: If a significant portion of the current home is unused or underutilized, downsizing can help avoid wasting space.
  8. Future Planning: Think about the long-term needs of the senior loved one. A downsized home might be easier to manage as they age, and it could also be more suitable if they require assistance or care.
  9. Desire for a Lifestyle Change: Some seniors want to downsize to simplify their lives, reduce stress, and enjoy retirement without the responsibilities of a larger home.
  10. Sentimental Attachment: While emotional attachment to a home is valid, it’s important to consider whether sentimental value outweighs the practical benefits of downsizing.
  11. Decluttering: Downsizing often requires decluttering and letting go of possessions. If the senior citizen is open to this process, it can lead to a lighter, more organized lifestyle.
  12. Legal and Financial Considerations: Consult legal and financial experts to understand the implications of downsizing, such as selling a home, dealing with property taxes, and managing any inheritance or estate matters.

Ultimately, the decision to downsize should be based on a combination of these factors, the individual’s preferences, and their unique circumstances. Involve the senior in the decision-making process and seek input from family members, friends, and professionals who can provide valuable insights and support.

If you have questions or would like to discuss the process of exploring whether it’s time to downsize and relocate and how to get started, contact Atlanta Seniors Real Estate any time.

5 big purchases retirees may regret.

You’re in the retirement phase of life and for many people that means scaling back, living with less, living more simply, decluttering and, often, relocating. In speaking with my clients, many of them are concerned about their financial sustainability and often express regrets when it comes to some of their past big money expenditures.

Our conversations match up with a recent MSN article called Boomer’s Remorse. Among the purchases seniors tend to regret later are:

  • Swimming Pool
  • Your Child’s Wedding
  • Timeshare
  • Life Insurance
  • Travel

The regret isn’t that money was spent on those items or events, but perhaps more often it is the amount that was spent. They feel they could have spent less and had more money to spread into other areas of their lives.

The article encourages readers to simply be selective when it comes to the financial splurge and make sure you have saved enough to take care of anything you’ll need.

>>Read the full article here.