Welcome to our first ARC newsletter! We’re glad to have you “on board.” Here you’ll find news that impacts seniors, alerts to events of interest, updates on discounts, health news, travel opportunities and more. Your suggestions and feedback about our newsletter and website are always welcome. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARC OPEN HOUSE: Come visit ARC’s resource desk the weekend of April 14-16 and receive free “File of Life” forms and a magnetic “wallet” for your refrigerator. These packets provide first responders, family, and friends with important information about you, your health, and your directives for treatment. The ARC will be open after each church service. If you can’t make it then, stop by the following Sunday, April 22nd.
ICE: Not the kind we slip on, not the kind that chills our beverages, the In Case of Emergency kind should be added to your cell phone/smart phone list of contacts. Type “ICE” in the “name” space; then fill in the phone numbers and email addresses for your emergency contact person. First responders and medical personnel are trained to look for ICE on your phone just as they look for the “File of Life” packet on your refrigerator. Be proactive, have peace of mind, and get the word out to family and friends you’ve done it and they should too!
POLITICS: With primaries in full swing and the 2012 election only nine months away, the National Council on Aging urges older adults and their caregivers to advocate for key issues that will affect their lives and their livelihoods. According to NCOA, here are the top six issues seniors should understand and monitor: The Older Americans Act (due to expire), Unemployment Insurance, Senior Programs funding, Long-Term Care, Preventative Medicine benefits, Nutrition (Meals on Wheels etc.). Read more about what’s at stake at http://www.ncoa.org/press-room/press-release/top-6-policy-issues-affecting.html
ELDER LAW: You wrote a will, established an estate plan or trust, but will your family know where to find other crucial information without missing something or feeling overwhelmed? The non-binding but legal “Letter of Instruction” provides heirs with information to help them efficiently and easily tie up your affairs. It covers a wide range of “to do’s” including whom to notify, logins and passwords for online accounts, location of banks, list of credit cards, location of safety deposit box, will, trust agreements, and instructions for funeral, burial, distribution of personal property, and a final message to family. See the complete list at http://www.elderlawanswers.com/resources/article.asp?id=9601&Section=4&state
DRIVING: When and how do you ask a senior to relinquish the keys? A recent NY Times article suggests a “driving contract” between the senior and a trusted friend or two. Read about it at http://newoldage.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/a-contract-to-stop-driving/
AMERICAN RIVER TRAVEL: Good news for folks who like river cruising in America—it’s poised to undergo a new renaissance. The newly formed Great American Steamboat Co. announced last fall that the American Queen, known as the largest steamboat in the world but docked since 2008, will resume passenger service on the Mississippi River as early as next spring. And American Cruise Lines is expanding its operations with the Queen of the Mississippi, the first new paddlewheeler built for the river in more than 15 years. Its maiden voyage, set for Aug. 11, 2012, is already sold out. Both vessels will travel the Mississippi River and its tributaries, routes formerly covered by the Delta Queen, which ended its passenger steamboat service in 2008. For more information go to http://www.greatamericansteamboatcompany.com/ and http://americancruiselines.com/ships.
SCAM ALERT: The National Council on Aging annually reports on the most prevalent scams and fraudulent activities targeting seniors and makes recommendations for protecting older Americans. You’ll find their 2012 suggestions below.
Millions of older adults fall prey to financial scams every year. Use these tips from NCOA and the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement to protect yourself or an older adult you know.
1. Be aware that you are at risk from strangers—and from those closest to you.
Over 90% of all reported elder abuse is committed by the older person’s own family members, most often their adult children, followed by grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and others.
Common tactics include depleting a joint checking account, promising but not delivering care in exchange for money or property, outright theft, and other forms of abuse, including physical abuse, threats, intimidation, and neglect of basic care needs.
Everyone is at risk of financial abuse, even people without high incomes or assets. Understand the top 10 most common scams targeting seniors, so you can spot one before it's too late.
2. Don't isolate yourself—stay involved!
Isolation is a huge risk factor for elder abuse. Most family violence only occurs behind closed doors, and elder abuse is no exception.
Some older people self-isolate by withdrawing from the larger community. Others are isolated because they lose the ability to drive, see, or walk about on their own. Some seniors fear being victimized by purse snatchings and muggings if they venture out.
Visit Eldercare Locator to find services nearby that can help you stay active. Or contact your local senior center to get involved.
3. Always tell solicitors: “I never buy from (or give to) anyone who calls or visits me unannounced. Send me something in writing.”
Don't buy from an unfamiliar company and always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity.
Neighborhood children you know who are selling Girl Scout cookies or school fundraising items may be an exception, but a good rule of thumb is to never donate if it requires you to write your credit card information on any forms.
It's also good practice to obtain a salesperson's name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business.
And always take your time in making a decision.
4. Shred all receipts with your credit card number.
Identity theft is a huge business. To protect yourself, invest in—and use—a paper shredder.
Monitor your bank and credit card statements and never give out personal information over the phone to someone who initiates the contact with you.
5. Sign up for the “Do Not Call” list and take yourself off multiple mailing lists.
Visit www.donotcall.gov to stop telemarketers from contacting you.
Be careful with your mail. Do not let incoming mail sit in your mailbox for a long time. When sending out sensitive mail, consider dropping it off at a secure collection box or directly at the post office.
You also can regularly monitor your credit ratings and check on any unusual or incorrect information at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
To get more tips on protecting yourself from fraud, visit www.Onguardonline.gov, which has interactive games to help you be a smarter consumer on issues of related to spyware, lottery scams, and other swindles.
6. Use direct deposit for benefit checks to prevent checks from being stolen from the mailbox.
Using direct deposit ensures that checks go right into your accounts and are protected. Clever scammers or even scrupulous loved ones have been known to steal benefits checks right out of mailboxes or from seniors’ homes if they are lying around.
7. Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
Misuse of Medicare dollars is one of the largest scams involving seniors. Common schemes include billing for services never delivered and selling unneeded devices or services to beneficiaries.
Protect your Medicare number as you do your credit card, banking, and Social Security numbers and do not allow anyone else to use it. Be wary of salespeople trying to sell you something they claim will be paid for by Medicare.
Review your Medicare statements to be sure you have in fact received the services billed, and report suspicious activities to 1-800-MEDICARE.
8. Be skeptical of all unsolicited offers and thoroughly do your research.
Be an informed consumer. Take the time to call and shop around before making a purchase. Take a friend with you who may offer some perspective to help you make difficult decisions.
Also, carefully read all contracts and purchasing agreements before signing and make certain that all of your requirements have been put in writing. Understand all contract cancellation and refund terms.
As a general rule governing all of your interactions as a consumer, do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds. These decisions are yours and yours alone.
Protect Your Loved Ones: Signs to Look For
If you know or care for an older adult, here are some additional warning signs that may indicate they are the victim of financial abuse:
Every state operates an Adult Protect Services (APS) program, which is responsible for receiving and investigating reports of elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and in most states, the abuse of younger adults with severe disabilities.
APS is the “911” for elder abuse. Anyone who suspects elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation should make a report. The reporter’s identity is protected. APS services are confidential, so the reporter may not be able to learn the outcome of the case.
APS respects the right of older persons to make their own decisions and to live their lives on their own terms. In cases of cognitive impairment, however, APS will take steps to protect the older person to the degree possible.
Steps to Take if You're a Victim
If you think you've been scammed, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk about it—waiting could only make it worse. Immediately:
Also, contact legal services and Adult Protective Services if warranted. To find your local offices, visit Eldercare Locator or call them toll-free at 1-800-677-1116 weekdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.