Most days at I get a call from an adult child of an elder, asking me about shady dealings over a parent’s finances. Sometimes it’s the niece, grandson, or other family member the caller is worried about. Sometimes it’s the caller’s sibling whose actions are in question. And all the cases I hear about have something in common: red flags of elder abuse are present, but no one is taking any action to stop them.
For example, a 62 year old woman whose mother is 90 called and said she is worried because she lives at a distance from her mother and her niece who is caring for the mother won’t return her calls or emails. And she also told me that a step-brother is a stockbroker and has financial power of attorney over her mother.
That’s 2 red flags, and she was just warming up.
Most abusers are family members. Caregivers are next and professionals, like stockbrokers, lawyers, financial advisers and insurance brokers are next in line for frequency of abuse. I do all I can to educate and urge action by family members to stop abuse when it happens and when it’s suspected to get a closer look.
I recently saw a new publication from our government, designed to raise people’s awareness about financial abuse and what an agent should and should not do when acting as agent on a financial power of attorney document.
Elder abuse is a huge international problem, and it’s finally getting more attention from the Federal government, thanks in part to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They came out with an excellent free little booklet to help folks understand how to handle someone else’s money when they get appointed as a Power of Attorney. It’s called Managing Someone Else’s Money: Help for agents under a power of attorney.
You can get it here: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201310_cfpb_lay_fiduciary_guides_agents.pdf.
Here’s what I like about this booklet.
It’s clear. It tells you what you can and can’t do as an agent. If you’re interested in being honest, it gives your guidelines to keep it that way. On the other side of the question, unscrupulous agents use the paper as a license to steal. Unfortunately, no court is involved and no one is watching. They help themselves to an elder’s money, house, investments, and anything else of value and some seniors are left destitute. I believe that sometimes, education can help family members stop other family members from committing this abuse. They can also warn the elder who is living independently about the sneaky thieves who devise ways to get elders’ money that are not so obvious. The booklet warns about some common scams. Not everyone knows about these and they keep getting victims to give up money.
The booklet lists 10 scams. I’ve picked a few to reiterate here for you. Would you know about these if they were going on with your elder right now?
1. Relative in need. Someone pretending to be a family member or friend calls or emails and says they are in trouble and need the elder to wire money right away. And by the way, you don’t have to be frail and isolated to get one of these pitches. I got one myself recently. Someone had hijacked my sister’s email address and sent emails to all of her like named contacts asking to wire money to her in a foreign country. Didn’t work with me, but it does get people to wire money to thieves. If no one fell for the scam they would stop, but it goes on.
2. Fake government funding. The recipient gets an official looking letter from a pretend government agency offering help with housing, home repairs, utilities or taxes. Just give them your credit card info and you get the help. Vulnerable and low income seniors fall for these scams because they are worried about the very things the ripoff artists offer them.
3. Home improvement. Targeted elders who own their homes (can be easily found in public records) are approached with an offer to fix something. It can be a roof, a fence or in my mother in law’s case it was to clean the air ducts. They take money in advance, overcharge and do shoddy work, or don’t do the work at all. The trusting elder doesn’t have a way to pursue them, as they disappear.
The booklet is 23 pages and has two pages of resources listed a the back. Among them are Adult Protective Services, and where to get free legal help for seniors. I think they did a fine job on this. Maybe that’s not the way I would comment on a lot of other confusing or poorly written government efforts at educating the public. And they don’t teach you this stuff in school. My hat’s off to the CFPB.
If you have an aging parent or other loved one, or you’re curious because your aging loved one put YOU on the documents that will one day cause you to have to handle their money, check out the booklet for yourself. I’m happy to share the good resource with you. Yep, your tax dollars at work.
Until next time,
The Polite Way to Pee
During one of her daily classes, a teacher trying to teach good
manners, asked her students the following question:
‘Michael, if you were on a date having dinner with a nice young lady,
how would you tell her that you have to go to the bathroom?’
Michael said: ‘Just a minute I have to go pee.’
The teacher responded by saying:
‘That would be rude and impolite.
What about you Sherman, how would you say it?’
‘I am sorry, but I really need to go to the bathroom.
I’ll be right back.’
‘That’s better, but it’s still not very nice to say the word bathroom
at the dinner table.
And you, little Johnny, can you use your brain for once and show us
your good manners?’
‘I would say: Darling, may I please be excused for a moment? I have to
shake hands with a very dear friend of mine, whom I hope to introduce
you to after dinner.’
The teacher fainted.
Carolyn and I want to sincerely thank everyone in our AgingParents family for your most kind thoughts and prayers.
Tigra our most wonderful dog and companion has gone to the great dog park in the sky.
May she rest in peace.
We’re losing our elders and we’re losing our aging pets. I am reminded of our clients who describe the struggle of realizing that an aging parent or spouse getting too old to manage alone anymore or is fast going downhill, yet they don’t want to face it. We empathize and offer support and direction. Now I feel the same about Tigra. I wish someone would offer me a direction. I don’t want to face it.
This one shocked me.
We are always here to help you through the many challenges in life, you can always take advantage of our Free complimentary telephone meeting. Just click HERE provide us with some information about your questions or issues and we will schedule our meeting.
With retirement and aging, older adults can find themselves with a lot of free time and not many ideas of what to do. Some alternatives to keep the mind busy and active are volunteering, starting another business, embarking on an encore career, engaging with one’s community, and caregiving or taking responsibility for grandchildren or friends with limited mobility.
These things can help us to build structure and purpose into our lives as we age and as we care for our own parents. It won’t surprise you to learn that the most popular pastime for older adults is watching TV. According to a MetLife study in 2012, socialization and communication as well as recreation and exercise decreased from 13% to 10% after the age of 75. My friend, Dr. Arnold Bresky, a preventive gerontologist, has come up with a nine point system of ways to be proactive in healthy aging and both prevent and treat symptoms of dementia. These tips can be applied to our own health in addition to our aging loved ones.
1. Fun and laughter: have 9 hearty laughs per day.
2. Relaxation, meditation or prayer: meditate or pray at least once a day.
3. Tunes Rx: Play joyful and relaxing music at least 15 minutes a day.
4. Sleep: Ideally sleep 8 uninterrupted hours between 11PM and 7PM.
5. Physical exercise: exercise everyday and track your progress. This can be anything from a slow, gentle walk to pool workouts, going to the gym, or taking a class.
6. Nutrition: eat a low fat Mediterranean diet. Many of our aging parents do not get the nutrients and vitamins they need. A low-fat Mediterranean diet that consists of things like olive oil, fresh fruit, vegetables, and low sugar options.
7. Hydration: drink 6, 8 ounce glasses of water a day. So many of us forget this important step. This is exceptionally true for older adults who can get dehydrated from medications and other sources.
8. Learn something new: Do crossword puzzles, create art, or take a class to acquire a new skill. Engaging our aging loved one’s minds can be a critical step in preventing depression.
9. Practice Acts of Kindness: reach out and make another person smile at least once a day.
My 91-year-old Mom is the poster girl for healthy aging. She lives alone, still drives during the day, gets together with friends often to socialize and play games, takes classes at the local community college, exercises in the community pool, takes care of her diet and walks on the treadmill for 20 minutes every morning. Although caring for our aging loved ones and ourselves can be challenging at times, making sure to take the steps to age healthily can ensure our ultimate success.
Published May 30, 2014
Harriette Thompson Running San Diego Marathon
Harriette Thompson, 91, running the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon.
When Harriette Thompson is not at church playing the piano, the 91-year-old cancer survivor is out running loops around the small lake in back of her retirement community in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Why is Thompson training? She’s running Sunday’s Rock ’n’ Roll San Diego Marathon.
Thompson has run almost every edition of the race. The exceptions were the inaugural year, 1998, and 2013, when she had to miss the race due to surgery for an oral cancer that took her upper jawbone and all but one of her upper teeth. The last time she ran San Diego, 2012, she finished in 6:50:03.
Thompson has also just finished another round of radiation to treat squamous cell carcinoma on her legs.
“It’s so painful,” she told the Charlotte Observer. “I just wish I hadn’t had the radiation till after the marathon.”
According to the Observer, Thompson decided to run a marathon at the age of 76 because a friend of hers was planning to walk the San Diego Marathon to raise money for charity. Since her marathon debut, Thompson has run every year on behalf of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Team In Training, generating more than $90,000.
When Thompson, who is starting in the first corral, crosses the finish line just outside of Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, she will not only be the oldest finisher in the history of the race, she’ll also likely break her age-group record.
According to USATF, the 90-94 female record is 8:53:08, set by Mavis Lindgren at the 1997 Portland Marathon. Thompson’s slowest marathon, 7:05:32, was her first. Her personal record is 6:07:22, which she ran in her sixth marathon at age 81.
The oldest woman to have completed a marathon was Gladys Burrill, who ran the 2010 Honolulu Marathon in 9:53:16 at the age of 92. Thompson will get a single-age record if she finishes on Sunday, as there is no 91-year-old female marathon finisher to date.
Thompson told the Observer she feels like a 91-year-old only after finishing a marathon.
“Lots of times [after the races], I see young girls coming in and limping, hardly able to move, and I think, ‘Well that’s pretty good that I don’t feel that bad,’” she said.
Share you story with our Aging Parents community. We all need to feel hope. Thank you for watching.
We don’t necessarily revere the aged. We may refuse to see ourselves as aging. We hate the word “elderly” unless we’re talking about our parents or grandparents. We ourselves couldn’t possibly be elderly! Who needs to deal with it if we’re not there yet, right?And yet, successful aging requires taking responsibility for the fact that we are moving toward being elderly ourselves.
Most of us just don’t want to learn about aging until we are dealing with an age-related problem ourselves. Before that, ignorance isn’t bliss. It’s risk. For example, if we study what makes others successful as they age, we can learn how they do it.
Things like daily doses of humor, exercise and getting rid of unhealthy things in our diet and lifestyles can really help us. As an example, I often think of comedian, writer and actor George Burns, who lived to be 100 and and worked at what he loved until shortly before his death. If you look at his lifestyle, you see all the essentials of successful aging. He was happy in his work. He exercised in his pool daily. He laughed at aging itself as well as his own age-related limitations. He did a lot of things in an ideal way and he reaped the benefits of his choices. He must have educated himself about what to do. We don’t learn this in school unless it is our professional field of study. Healthy aging research is abundant, as lifespans are increasing. Read up, as exemplary seniors can inspire all of us.
Prepare for your own successful aging by taking action. I look at how my own grandmother lived as she aged. She died at 93 after successfully navigating her own aging process for many years. She was widowed and lived alone, but maintained her house as a comfortable place for her children and grandchildren to visit. She had the means, which helps, but it was intentional to create an atmosphere around her where family would want to visit. And they did. Engagement with family and frequent visitors kept her involved in positive things. She read daily and worked crossword puzzles. She followed world politics and world news. She went outside for at least a mile walk every day. She stayed active in her local church, and community organizations for as long as she was able to get out. As she became more frail and developed dementia, she stayed at home with a full time caregiver. Family were around her constantly. She died in her own bed, in the presence of family, probably with no regrets. I always thought she modeled a good way to go out of this life. She taught me that aging is not a passive thing. You need to put energy into it.
If we want aging to be a successful long term proposition for ourselves, we have to look at how it gets to be long term and how we keep our vitality. We can’t expect healthy aging to be merely a matter of luck. At least being informed and inspired by those who manage this phase of life successfully can inspire us to take action in our own lives.
Retirement opens the door to change our focus from our work lives to our opportunity to make aging a positive experience. It will probably involve some limitations from the wear and tear of years of living in our bodies, but that need not stop us from healthy aging. My hope is that with millions of Boomers retiring every year, that our generation will embrace aging as something more than we were before, not something less. Let that be a resolution.
Thanks for listening
Carolyn Rosenblatt & Dr. Mikol Davis
First, we do have to put ourselves first sometimes. What’s best for us, best for our own families and our own peace of mind must be a serious consideration. Sacrificing our sanity for the sake of caregiving is not the best choice. Delegate and find others to help if having too much of the caregiver burden is getting you down.
Second, know our own limitations. Caring for aging parents can become very time-consuming and emotionally wrenching as we watch our loved ones decline in health. Trying to bravely go it alone, taking in an ailing parent, or assuming other large, long term chores is not for everyone. It’s okay to say “no”. Every adult child is not the same and many are simply unable to do a good job of being a primary caregiver. Admitting this to ourselves is both healthy and necessary.
Third, forget trying for praise, appreciation or recognition of a caregiving job well done when our parent has dementia. Our parent’s brain is not functioning normally with dementia. The cognitive impairment may mean that he or she is unable to appreciate your efforts. It may mean behavior changes, such as suspicion, accusations and nasty outbursts in your aging parent when that sort of thing didn’t happen before. Do a good job for your own sake and because it’s right, not because you have to have your parent’s approval.
Fourth, we need to love ourselves for trying. Our efforts may not always succeed. We may feel doubt about what we’re doing. We may feel guilty that we get mad at an aging parent who is so difficult. But we keep trying to make life manageable, keep up their quality of life the best we can and go at it with sincere hearts. We need to tell ourselves that we are brave and valued for forging on in the face of difficulty. We need to appreciate our own efforts.
Fifth, we need to take breaks. We get so lost in caregiving, directing others, managing our own jobs, families and problems, we forget how much time we’re putting in. We forget to stop. This is really important! To nurture our own bodies and soothe our own spirits is the very thing that gives us the strength to carry on and keep it up.
So, my friends, be very good to yourselves. Love your own heartfelt work of helping aging parents, especially the most difficult ones. It takes a strong will to put up with the resistance difficult parents put up.
Mikol and I are with you. We have difficult people in our lives, too. My Mom was mentally ill and the challenge to my strength and patience was there for years on end.
We are on this journey together. We can help each other along.
If your aging parent is driving you nuts, let us know about it, We do like to address your questions.
Until next time,
All the best,
Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Attorney and Dr. Mikol Davis